Korsakoff Syndrome: Definition, Symptoms And Treatment

Korsakoff Syndrome: Definition, Symptoms And Treatment

Korsakoff syndrome is a condition related to vitamin B1 deficiency that mainly affects chronic alcoholics. It causes irreversible damage in certain areas of the brain. Read below to learn more about this health condition. 

Everything You Need To Know About Korsakoff Syndrome

1. What it is: Korsakoff syndrome is characterised by cognitive disorders including short-term memory loss and spatio-temporal disorientation. It occurs when a person is deficient in vitamin B1 and mainly affects chronic alcoholics, but can also occur in people who suffer from severe malnutrition. This deficiency of vitamin B1 (thiamine) for too long a period can cause lesions in the middle region of the brain that is responsible for memory. These brain lesions are irreversible and are responsible for Korsakoff's syndrome.

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2. Symptoms: The symptoms of Korsakoff syndrome are variable from person to person, but memory loss is found in all patients. The other symptoms include:

-Serious short-term memory problems

-Fabrication (the person may invent facts and stories to make up for their loss of memory)

-Disorientation in time and space

-False recognitions (the patient is mistaken about the identity of some people)

-Inflammation of the nervous tissue

-Disturbances of balance and walking, tremors

-Mood disorders (depression, anxiety, euphoria)

-Apathy

-Repetitive behaviours and speech

3. Causes: Korsakoff syndrome is caused by thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency, which is largely linked to chronic alcoholism and nutritional deficiencies. It is often the result of poorly treated or untreated Gayet-Wernicke encephalopathy, but it can also occur independently. 

4. Treatments: Korsakoff syndrome cannot be cured and the brain damage is irreversible. It will therefore be impossible for the person to recover to their previous state. The patient will have to be cared for to receive an emergency vitamin B1 supplement and to maintain a balanced diet. They should also have support structured by different specialists - such as nutritionists, psychologists, and alcohol specialists.

Will Armstrong
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