What is the Standard Korsakoff’s syndrome treatment and what exactly is the disorder? Korsakoff’s syndrome is a type of brain disorder caused by excessive alcohol consumption over a long period of time. The disorder is common amongst long-term alcoholics and one of the characteristics is short term memory loss, which is why Korsakoff’s syndrome is sometimes referred to as “alcohol amnestic syndrome.
Drinking heavily over a prolonged period of time can have a devastating effect on the body in general, but what many alcoholics do not realize is that the disease can affect the brain as well as the kidneys and liver. Alcoholics are much more likely to eat a poor diet, which leads to deficiencies in many vitamins and minerals, and the symptoms of Korsakoff’s syndrome are primarily caused by a deficiency of vitamin B1.
Alter Drinking Behavior
Despite the damage to the brain seen in Korsakoff’s syndrome, it is possible for the symptoms to be reversed if the patient ceases drinking and enters a period of sobriety. Improvements can take up to two years, but patient must also adopt a healthy diet with added vitamin and mineral supplements to help the brain recover from the damage wrought by alcohol abuse.
Find Assistance: Alcohol Support Groups
Unfortunately, people with a drink problem usually find it very difficult to abstain from alcohol, particularly if their alcoholism has developed over many years. In most cases, the patient will require a great deal of assistance to help them stay on the path of sobriety, so treatment for Korsakoff’s syndrome will include support from groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
In around one quarter of cases, the patient will make a good recovery and many of the symptoms of Korsakoff’s syndrome will be reversed. 50% of patients will make a partial recovery once they stop drinking, but the remaining 25% will not show any improvement whatsoever, despite abstaining from alcohol.
If a patients is unable to stop drinking, Korsakoff’s syndrome will continue to progress. In severe cases, excessive alcohol consumption can damage brain cells in the cerebral cortex region of the brain and all kinds of cognitive functions are affected. If this occurs, it is referred to as alcohol dementia.
Alcohol Problems or Malnutrition?
The symptoms of Korsakoff’s syndrome can also be seen in patients suffering from severe malnutrition, although this is very rare in the West. As with alcohol abuse, when poor nutrition is the root cause, the effects can be partially reversed by adopting a better diet and taking vitamin and mineral supplements.
In severe cases, Korsakoff’s syndrome can develop into Wernicke’s encephalopathy. The symptoms of Wernicke’s encephalopathy can develop quite suddenly and include involuntary eye movements or paralysis of the eye muscles, balance problems, a staggering gait, confusion and drowsiness. This disorder requires immediate treatment to avoid long term brain damage or even death, and the treatment consists of a large dose of thiamine (vitamin B1) injected into a muscle or vein, or taken via the mouth. If the treatment is successful, the effects of Wernicke’s encephalopathy can be reversed within a few hours.