Disclaimer: The following information is based on press release written by Loyola University. Neither Scott Friedman nor Beyond Injury is accountable for the claims or statements made by Loyola University.
In the developed world, Wernicke encephalopathy typically occurs in people who have disorders such as alcoholism and anorexia that lead to malnourishment. Wernicke encephalopathy is an example of the wide range of brain diseases, called encephalopathies, that are caused by metabolic disorders and toxic substances, according to a report by Loyola neurologists Matthew McCoyd, MD, Sean Ruland, DO and Jose Biller, MD in the journal Scientific American Medicine.
Thiamine deficiency is among the nutritional deficiencies that can cause brain diseases such as Wernicke encephalopathy. If untreated, Wernicke encephalopathy can lead to Korsakoff syndrome (KS), which is characterized by profound memory loss and inability to form memories – patients often can’t remember events within the past 30 minutes. Other KS symptoms can include apathy, anxiety and confabulation (fabricating imaginary experiences to compensate for memory loss).
Wernicke encephalopathy is a medical emergency that requires immediate thiamine treatment, either by injection or IV. “In the absence of treatment, deficiency can lead to irreversible brain damage and death with an estimated mortality of 20 percent,” the Loyola neurologists write.
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