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The Realities Of Alcoholic ‘Wet-Brain’

on Wednesday, 04 June 2014. Posted in Breaking News, Alcohol

The Realities Of Alcoholic ‘Wet-Brain’

It is common knowledge that alcoholism can have a big impact on your health, but not many people may know about a particular illness linked to heavy drinking known as “Wet Brain”. This problem does not occur exclusively to alcoholics but consuming excessive amounts of alcohol can cause people to develop the illness.

While alcohol consumption does have damaging effects on the brain, wet brain is not caused by brain damage but by a lack of thiamine or vitamin B1. The reason alcohol is linked to this type of nutrient deficiency is because alcohol interferes with the absorption of thiamine. Wet brain can have a sudden onset in individuals that have been drinking heavily for a long period of time.

Symptoms And Causes Of Wet Brain

The risk of developing wet brain is even more pronounced for alcoholics with a poor diet. Many heavy drinkers often feel too nauseous to eat enough and are lacking important vitamins, especially thiamine which their bodies have trouble absorbing. If wet brain should begin to develop in an alcoholic then they will begin to see some of the symptoms that affect their motor skills.

They may have a staggering or irregular gait and troubles with muscular coordination. The illness can also affect their memory as they might begin to remember or make up events that never actually occurred. They can also struggle to form new memories or be unable to remember recent events. In a more severe form of wet brain, a person may suffer from memory loss where they cannot remember events in the distant past that occurred before their illness.

Wet brain can also lead to more dangerous symptoms like visual and auditory hallucinations because of the way that it affects the brain. Alcoholics with the illness may also deal with vision problems such as double vision, eyelid drooping and abnormal eye movements.

Treating Or Reversing The Illness

The issue with wet brain that can make it hard to identify early on is that it is not a case of gradual brain damage. Instead, wet brain can occur suddenly and without warning to people who may not be aware of their thiamine deficiency.

Wet brain actually occurs when a person with a lack of thiamine experiences a sudden large dose of glucose. A sudden influx of glucose can lead to wet brain if an alcohol eats a large amount of sweets and gets little other nutritious food. The dose of glucose is the first stage of the illness which can actually be completely reversed if the person receives thiamine injections early enough in the development of the problem.

If it is not treated in time with an increase in thiamine then wet brain can progress into a second and more dangerous stage of a form of psychosis. This stage is not reversible but can be improved somewhat with treatment.

How To Prevent Wet Brain

It is possible to prevent the onset of wet brain for alcoholics if they suspect it is a potential problem for them. A person with an alcohol problem should try to eat a balanced and healthy diet with plenty of vitamin B1. They may need to get much more of the vitamin than one who does not drink heavily as the alcohol affects their ability to absorb thiamine.

Of course the best way to prevent any of the health problems associated with alcoholism is to abstain from drinking and make an effort to recover from addiction. For an alcoholic that has already developed wet brain it is crucial that they quit drinking and get as much thiamine in their system as possible. Quitting drinking can help prevent or reverse the effects of wet brain which can have very severe and dangerous symptoms if it continues to develop.

photo credit: Andrew Mason via photopin cc

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