Wernicke's syndrome is a deficiency in the vitamin,
thiamine, that is due to poor nutrition. It is difficult for
the body to get all of the vitamins it needs if the main
part of one's diet is alcoholic beverages. Wernicke's
syndrome often exists at the same time of another
syndrome is an impaired memory syndrome caused by
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF THIAMINE
DEFIECIENCY IN WERNICKE'S SYNDROME?
The thiamine deficiency in Wernicke's syndrome leads
to brain damage. Specifically, the brain becomes
inflamed, bleeds, and deteriorates over time.
Alcoholism can lead to
Scientists have found characteristic patterns of altered cells in several areas of the brain
in people with Wernicke's syndrome.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF WERNICKE'S SYNDROME?
The brain damage that occurs in Wernicke's syndrome often leads to confusion, poor
memory, and poor attention), double vision, impaired eye movements, unequal pupil size,
sluggish pupil reflexes, and nystagmus (rhythmic involuntary jerking or swinging
movements of the eyes).
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There is also an impaired ability to coordinate muscles and smooth
voluntary movements. This impairment in movement occurs along
with repetitive and usually involuntary muscle shaking.
WHERE IS THE BRAIN DAMAGE LOCATED IN WERNICKE'S
Brain damage in Wernicke's syndrome typically occurs in the
hypothalamus (an area in the lower part of the brain that is important
for many bodily functions such as sleep, thirst, and hunger) and the
mammillary bodies (a part of the hypothalamus that is important for
The brain damage can also occur in tissues surrounding the ventricles (a series of chambers in the brain
filled with fluid) and the cerebral aqueduct (a canal that connects two of these chambers).
ARE THERE OTHER CAUSES OF WERNICKE'S SYNDROME BESIDES CHRONIC ALCOHOLISM?
Yes. Wernicke's syndrome can also occur when one has poor nutrition and a poor ability to absorb
vitamins and nutrients in the body, as well as one of the following two problems: (1) a disease of the
digestive tract (the tube leading from the mouth to the anus) or (2) a condition known as hyperemesis
gravidarum, in which pregnant women have prolonged vomiting, loss of weight, and imbalances in fluids
and electrolytes (chemical substances that are able to conduct electricity after they are melted or
dissolved in water).
WHY IS IT CALLED WERNICKE'S SYNDROME?
Wernicke's syndrome was named after the German neurologist, Karl Wernicke, who lived from 1848 to
WHAT ELSE IS WERNICKE'S SYNDROME CALLED?
Wernicke's syndrome is also known as Wernicke's disease, Wernicke's encephalopathy and superior