Korsakoff Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms And Treatments

Korsakoff Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms And Treatments

Korsakoff syndrome is a chronic memory disorder caused by a severe deficiency of thiamine (vitamin B-1). Korsakoff syndrome is most commonly caused by alcohol abuse, but some other conditions can also cause the syndrome.


About Korsakoff syndrome


Thiamine (Vitamin B-1) helps brain cells produce energy from sugar. If the mirrors fall too low, brain cells cannot generate enough energy to function properly. As a result, Korsakoff syndrome may develop.


Korsakoff syndrome is most commonly caused by alcohol abuse, but can also be linked to AIDS, chronic infections, malnutrition and other conditions. See the causes and risks below.


Korsakoff syndrome often, but not always, from an episode of encephalopathy Wernicke, an acute brain reaction preceded by severe lack of thiamine. Wernicke’s encephalopathy is a medical emergency that causes a brain disorder that endangers life, confusion, vacillations, coordination disorders, and abnormal involuntary eye movements.

Korsakoff’s chronic memory loss syndrome often follows an episode of chronic Wernicke’s encephalopathy, thus sometimes known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. The Korsakoff syndrome can also develop in people who have suffered from Wernicke’s encephalopathy.




The Korsakoff syndrome causes problems in learning new information, inability to remember recent events and long-term memory deficits. Memory problems can be very serious, while other thinking and social skills are not compromised. For example, people seem to be able to maintain a consistent conversation, but moments later may not remember when the conversation took place or who talked.

People with Korsakoff syndrome can “con fi gue” or invent information they cannot remember. They do not lie, but they can believe their invented explanations. Scientists still do not understand why Korsakoff syndrome can cause the collision.




Korsakoff syndrome is a clinical diagnosis that represents the best judgment of a physician about the cause of a person’s symptoms. There are no specific laboratory tests or brain analysis procedures to confirm that a person has this disorder. The syndrome can sometimes be difficult to identify because the symptoms may be masked by other common conditions among alcohol drinkers, including intoxication or withdrawal, infection or head trauma.

Experts recommend that a medical study on memory loss or other cognitive changes always include questions about a person’s alcohol consumption. Anyone hospitalized for an alcohol-related illness should be professionally screened for memory loss and cognitive changes.


Causes and risks


Scientists still do not know exactly how Korsakoff’s syndrome damages the brain. Research has shown that thiamine deficiency destroys various biochemicals that play a key role in signal transport between brain cells and the storage and recovery of memories. These disruptions destroy brain cells and cause microscopic bleeding and scarring. Most cases of Korsakoff syndrome are a result of alcohol abuse. Scientists still do not know why excessive alcohol consumption causes severe thiamine deficiency in some alcoholics, while others mainly talk about the effects of alcohol on the liver, stomach, heart, intestines and other body systems.


Researchers have identified several genetic variations that may increase susceptibility to Korsakoff syndrome. Poor nutrition can also increase the risk. Subscribe to our news online for updates on care and research on Alzheimer’s and dementia.


Korsakoff can also be caused by anorexia, overly strict diet, fasting, hunger or weight loss after surgery; uncontrolled vomiting; AIDS; Kidney dialysis; chronic infection; or cancer that has spread throughout the body.


Treatment and outcomes


Some experts recommend that die-hard and other endangered thiamine drinkers take oral thiamine supplements and other vitamins under the supervision of your doctor.


Many experts also recommend that Thiamine Injection is given to persons with a history of excessive alcohol consumption who have symptoms of Wernicke’s encephalopathy until the clinical picture becomes clearer.


Once the acute symptoms have improved, patients should be carefully examined to determine if their medical history, alcohol consumption and memory problems are consistent with Korsakoff’s syndrome. For those who develop Korsakoff syndrome, prolonged treatment with oral thiamine, other vitamins, and magnesium may increase the chances of symptom improvement. Leaving alcohol is also an effective treatment.


For those who develop Korsakoff’s syndrome, with or without a previous episode of Wernicke’s encephalopathy, there are few studies on long-term outcomes. Available data suggest that about 25% of those who develop Korsakoff’s disease eventually recover, about half improve, but do not fully recover, and about 25% remain unchanged. Some research suggests that those recovering from an episode have a normal life expectancy if they do not consume alcohol.

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