A wet brain; does it not sound almost impossible? What does a wet brain actually mean? Does it mean that somehow there is water inside your brain which makes it wet or does it mean that some kind of condition prevails in the brain which makes it wet in some other form?
But if you think anatomically having water in the brain, sounds like a disaster, right? So, what exactly is a wet brain, let’s get to know more about it and how it is caused.
1. What Causes Wet Brain?
If a person consumes a lot of alcohol for a prolonged period of time, then they can experience damage in the brain which is permanent in some cases, and this condition is known as a wet brain. What happens when someone consumes a lot of alcohol is that the body becomes deficient in vitamin B or thiamine.
The deficiency of thiamine hampers a lot of bodily functions. Vitamin B is among those vitamins that are required by the body more compared to other vitamins and also are required by almost all body parts.
Even for the brain, thiamine is very necessary, as enzymes and neurotransmitters both require thiamine. Due to this, when there is a lack of thiamine in the body and brain, it leads to brain damage, also known as wet brain.
2. How Does Drinking Large Amounts of Alcohol Cause Thiamine Deficiency?
When a person consumes a lot of alcohol, it affects them in various ways and one of the major effects is that their diet gets limited, restricted, and somewhat reduced. When the diet is reduced it automatically reduces the amount of thiamine intake.
This symptom is usually experienced in people who abuse alcohol. You need to consume a well-balanced diet if you drink a lot of alcohol to create a kind of equilibrium.
But there is another problem with it, even if you are consuming a very healthy and nutritious diet and consuming a lot of alcohol, then you will still experience problems.
This is because when you have a very heavy consumption your body also has outflows in the form of vomiting, nausea, increased urination, and diarrhea which in turn averts the thiamine intake again, reducing the amount of thiamine in the diet.
Another problem is that alcohol consumption also affects the overall working of the liver, and reduces the efficiency. Due to this, the time to convert thiamine to a usable form in the liver also increases which reduces the thiamine availability.
Studies have shown that in Western countries, 30 and 80% of alcoholics are thiamine deficient, thus putting them at a high risk to develop Wernicke–Korsakoff (WK) syndrome.
3. Stages of Wet Brain: What is a Wet Brain?
There are two stages of wet brain, depending upon the effects and duration. Let’s understand both based on the symptoms observed in each.
3.1. Wernicke Encephalopathy
The early stage of the wet brain is known as Wernicke-Korsakoff. During this stage, the major symptoms that are experienced include rapid eye movement, muscle weakness, increased confusion, and visual and auditory hallucinations.
Vision problems, extreme trauma-like conditions that might adversely affect everyday functions like walking, personality changes, and sometimes even coma-like states.
It is caused by inflammation in the brain. Although it is temporary, it is still very dangerous due to the symptoms that are experienced. It can be very extreme and in some cases can turn out to be fatal too.
There are two ways to treat this; treatment and cure. Secondly, if there is no proper cure then it worsens the conditions and leads to the second stage of wet brain, which is dangerous.
3.2. Korsakoff Psychosis
Korsakoff syndrome or Korsakoff psychosis is the second stage or the later stage of Wernicke encephalopathy.
The symptoms experienced include personality changes, confabulation, and tremors, and it can also lead to problems with short-term memory and difficulty in forming new memories.
It might also affect vision. It is more of a permanent state and can not be treated. The damage is like a coma, so basically anybody suffering from this condition requires constant care and attention.
4. Diagnosis of Wet Brain
The diagnosis of a wet brain is a very challenging process because the initial symptom is confusion.
Due to this, it is all the more difficult to find and recognize any other major symptoms that you might be having. When this process gets delayed, you get medical help later and in the meantime, it might make your condition bad to worse.
It is somewhat easy for people who are alcoholics because thiamine deficiency is most common in them due to the unhealthy diet consumed.
Somebody who already has a history of alcohol should make sure that they get their tests done and consult doctors whenever it is needed.
5. Wet Brain Treatment
As we know what causes the disease, the solution is to provide the body back with it. So, a wet brain that is caused by thiamine deficiency is recovered by putting in a lot of thiamine and cutting down on alcohol.
This helps in reversing the symptoms if it is not too late, and you have not already slipped into stage two.
The problem that still remains for hardcore alcoholics as it becomes a very challenging task to give up alcohol, and the withdrawal symptoms make it worse.
6. Final Thoughts: What is a Wet Brain?
We have seen above how alcohol abuse is very dangerous for the body and how it causes a wet brain. In addition to that thiamine deficiency, is also affects the proper functioning of both the heart and the nervous system.
Due to insufficient thiamine, there are lesions in the brain, and these kinds of neurological symptoms lead to memory loss and other issues. Once it is not controlled, it will convert into a more serious and permanent problem, which is why it should be prevented at all costs to prevent any severe damage to your brain.