Korsak’s syndrome

Korsakoff syndrome or Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome /SVK/ is a type of brain disease caused by the deficiency of thiamine or vitamin B1 in the human body.


Symptoms of Wernicke’s encephalopathy or Wernicke’s disease, which is characterized by hemorrhages in the lower levels of the brain such as the thalamus and hypothalamus, usually develop initially.

These brain centers control the nervous and endocrine systems. Hemorrhages cause damage to the brain, which is manifested by affecting the body’s vision, coordination and balance.

The symptoms of Korsakoff’s syndrome usually appear when the symptoms of Wernicke’s encephalopathy have subsided.

If Wernicke’s disease is treated quickly and effectively, Korsakoff’s syndrome may not develop. CHD is the result of chronic brain damage and affects the brain centers that control memory.

Alcoholism, or chronic alcohol abuse, is the number 1 cause of CVD.

The syndrome may also be due to insufficient dietary intake of vitamin B1 or other disease conditions that impair thiamine absorption.

The key to recovery from the syndrome is maintaining adequate levels of vitamin B1.

What are the symptoms?

Lesions in the brain cause Wernicke’s disease that result from thiamine deficiency.

More obvious symptoms of the disease are:

• Double vision;
• Drooping of the upper eyelids;
• Involuntary movements of the eyes up and down or left and right;
• Loss of muscle coordination;
• Confused mentally state;

Subsequently Wernicke‘s disease may progress to Korsakoff’s syndrome.

Patients who develop this disease face serious memory problems.

They may begin to suffer from partial memory loss or be unable to retain new information.

Patients may also exhibit the following symptoms:

• Loss of memories of events that occurred after the onset of the illness;
• Difficulty understanding the meaning of information;
• Hallucinations;
• Difficulty understanding the meaning of words in context ;
• Confabulation – making up different stories and exaggerating the facts of events that happened;

Treatment of Korsakoff syndrome

Treatment should begin immediately. Timely application of treatment can slow down or stop the development of the disease, and even non-permanent brain damage will be cured.

Treatment may require hospitalization. At the hospital, the patient will be monitored to see if his digestive system is properly digesting the food he has taken.

The doctor may prescribe an infusion of thiamine intravenously.

Treatment may consist of:

• Intravenous administration of Vitamin B1 through the arm or arm;
• Oral thiamine – to keep vitamin levels constant after initial treatment;
• Balanced diet – to keep thiamine levels constant within the norm, and even initially slightly higher;
• Treatment of alcoholism – providing help to get rid of physical dependence on alcohol;

In a small number of cases, treatment with thiamine leads to side effects, most often occurring in alcoholics.

Adverse reactions when using Vitamin B1 can vary and consist of alcohol withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, sweating or mood changes.

The affected person may begin to hallucinate or become delirious.


The disease can be prevented by avoiding the use or by drinking more limited amounts of alcoholic beverages and it is necessary to adhere to a diet that includes foods rich in thiamine.

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