What Is The Most Common Cause Of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome?

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, or WK syndrome, is a disease that is actually characterized by two brain disorders that occur together. Wernicke encephalopathy, which affects the body’s ability to function in multiple ways, and Korsakoff syndrome, which affects the brain and its ability to regulate memories, speech, decision making, and more. WK syndrome is a condition that worsens and can be life-threatening to patients, which is why it’s important to make life decisions that help to prevent the disease, or identify and treat the condition as soon as a diagnosis is obtained.

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The Most Common Causes

This syndrome is a memory disorder that is caused by the body’s lack of vitamin B1, or thiamin, and most often occurs in people who have a history of severe alcohol use (those with alcohol use disorder, AUD), and those who suffer from malnutrition. These two disorders tend to affect the body’s ability to absorb and use thiamin to effectively function, creating issues throughout the body’s systems.

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Because WK syndrome is a combination of two disorders, symptoms can affect both the body and the brain of the patient. Confusion, coordination issues, visual challenges and tremors are among the symptoms that affect the body due to Wernicke’s encephalopathy, while Korsakoff syndrome can affect the brain by causing memory impairment, hallucinations, speech repetitions, and lack of motivation or empathy.

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Diagnosis for WK syndrome is crucial, and can help to ensure effective treatment in the early stages. A patient exhibiting any of the symptoms will likely be diagnosed with a physical exam, discussion about their health history, and if they’ve had a history of alcohol abuse, malnutrition, chronic infections, or other risk factors.

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Treatment and Care

While this disease doesn’t have a cure, relief for the symptoms can be provided with immediate treatment upon diagnosis. If the patient is exhibiting signs of Wernicke encephalopathy, treatment may help to prevent progression into WK syndrome, helping to maintain the brain health and mental abilities of the patient.

At Circle of Life Care, our team is here to help patients with WK syndrome with compassionate, high-quality care and treatment. Learn more about the care available to patients with WK syndrome by contacting us today.

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