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Wernicke’s encephalopathy (brain disease) is a disease of the central nervous system that is usually associated with chronic alcohol abuse and is ultimately caused by thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency. When combined with symptoms of Korsakow syndrome, it becomes Wernicke-Korsakow syndrome.
Wernicke’s encephalopathy primarily affects areas of the brain that have a strong need for vitamin B1. In principle, anyone can contract it – in Israel, several infants contracted it in 2003 from vitamin B1-free food. However, it most often affects alcoholics.
The lack of vitamin B1 disturbs the carbohydrate metabolism in the brain. As a result, water retention (edema) occurs, and later hemorrhage and the formation of small vessels in some parts of the brain (capillaries) – these parts of the brain are destroyed as a result.
Important symptoms in comparison, from both symptom complexes together arises the diagnosis Wernicke-Korsakow syndrome.
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