Korsakoff’s syndrome (A guide)

In this brief guide, we will discuss the Korsakoff’s syndrome, the symptoms of the Korsakoff’s syndrome and the possible treatments you may be able to access

According to science and the expert doctors, Korsakoff’s syndrome is considered as the most common form of alcohol retained brain damage also known as ARBD.

In this article, you’ll get detailed information related to this chronic neurological disorder to help prevent one’s suffering due to this ARBD disease which can sometimes lead to full lifetime care.

This brain disease is a sworn form of ARBD which leads to chronic memory disorder caused by the insufficiency of thiamine ( vitamin B-1) in the brain.

This brain disorder is not only caused by a deficiency of thiamine in the brain but also due to brain-damaging effects of alcohol.

Too much alcohol consumption is fatal for human health.

Many people do not realize this and they do not stop consuming alcohol even after they have consumed it five times a day.

The main cause of Korsakoff’s syndrome is the overconsumption of alcohol which leads to thiamine deficiency in the brain.

This leads to the inability to form new memories hence causing alcoholic dementia. 

Symptoms of Wernicke-encephalopathy 

It is always beneficial to be completely aware of the symptoms of this chronic brain disorder which can be very fatal for human health if not diagnosed early. 

Korsakoff’s syndrome also known as alcoholic dementia has the following symptoms in a person suffering from this neurological disorder:

  • Memory loss: A person suffering from Korsakoff’s syndrome will be unable to remember any sort of information. Not only that the person will face memory loss (both short term and long term) but also they will not be able to learn anything because of damaged memory cells in the hypothalamus. 
  • Unable to recall: If you see a person suffering from this brain disorder then most likely they’ll be able to have a normal conversation with another person but they won’t be able to remember or recall the conversation because of damaging effects of alcohol on memory cells in the brain.
  • Fixation amnesia: Also called amnesia of fixation which results in loss of memory and inability to remember the events of the past few minutes. Therefore a person suffering from Korsakoff’s syndrome will not be able to remember events that occur a couple minutes ago. 
  • Misinterpreted memories (confabulation): This is a memory error which means that a person suffering from this brain disorder will form new memories by making up events that might never have occurred or formed a new story when you can’t remember the actual event
  • Double vision: A person suffering from Korsakoff’s syndrome will be unable to see properly or would have double vision. 
  • Violent behavior: As patients suffering from this brain disorder are not able to recall anything or have a proper conversation so it makes then frustrated and it leads to violent behavior which may not be safe. 

Possible adverse side effects of Korsakoff’s syndrome

Many people need to know the possible adverse side effects of this brain disorder like is it fatal to cause death or not.

It all depends on the person suffering from this memory disorder.

If you start the treatment process earlier then you can save someone’s life who is suffering from this neurological disease. 

However, if you take the patient to the hospital late due to any negligence then the chances are that the patient might not be able to survive or even if he/she does the chances of living a normal life will be very low which will automatically lead to death.

Therefore, it is always better to take the patient to the hospital as early as you possibly can. 

About 25% of the patients suffering from ARBD Korsakoff’s syndrome survive after timely treatment but the majority of the people suffering from this disease find it hard to get back to a normal life.

The chances of death among the patients suffering from Korsakoff’s syndrome are higher as compared to those who survive. 

This doesn’t mean that you should be hopeless and does not start the treatment of the patient.

It all depends on the patient’s will. Some patients recover faster than expectations only because of strong will power.

Therefore you should never worry about the chances of death because of Korsakoff’s syndrome. 

Instead, the patient should have strong will power to fight this disorder. 

Proper treatment can result in an improvement in the ability to learn and recall.

The patient will also start feeling better and would be able to talk normally.

The aggressive behavior will be lowered and proper medication would help keep the patient calm.

Diagnosis of Korsakoff’s syndrome 

Korsakoff’s syndrome represents itself as a chronic form of ARBD which stands for alcohol retained brain damage.

It is a type of chronic brain disorder that is caused by thiamine ( vitamin B-1) deficiency which is malnutrition caused by excessive consumption of alcohol.

This has to swear neurotoxic effects on the brain which can be very fatal. 

Initially, when the thiamine level falls down the neurons get low on energy which is required for the proper functioning of the brain.

This leads to failure of recalling or remembering anything that happened two seconds ago, two minutes ago, an hour ago or even a childhood memory. 

Poor nutrition can also result in the diagnosis of this neurological disorder as it is caused by the inadequacy of vitamin B-1 in the brain.

Other health disorders like cancer, AIDS can also lead to ARBD.

Malnutrition causes this neurological disorder as the levels of energy in the brain are drastically decreased which leads to other health problems like poor eye vision, aggressiveness, pointless and false conversations and most importantly poor memory. 

Possible treatment of ARBD memory disorder

This brain disorder is caused because of thiamine deficiency in the body.

This can also be caused by vitamin B-1 deficiency in the brain.

Mostly this neurological disorder takes place in younger people because of poor nutrition.

When your diet is adequate of essential nutrients your brain can get low on thiamine. 

Low levels of thiamine can lead to low energy levels in the brain which results in this memory disorder.

Not only that it is caused by thiamine deficiency but also excessive consumption of alcohol can also cause this brain disorder.

This is the reason why it is also known as alcohol dementia. 

The early stage of Korsikoff’s syndrome is known as Wernicke encephalopathy.

The diseased can be treated by giving patients high doses of thiamine as the disease is mainly caused by thiamine deficiency in the brain.

When you improve levels of thiamine in the brain it simultaneously results in increased energy levels in the body, therefore, restoring the normal functioning of the neurons and formation of memory. 

This can be done by proper intake of thiamine in the form of tablets as prescribed by the doctor.

If the initial treatment doesn’t help then the doctor will start the therapy and rehabilitation process.

Prevalence of Korsakoff’s in human body

This brain disorder is most common in people with the age between 30-70 years.

The thiamine deficiency will promote this chronic memory disorder.

If your brain is dangerously low on thiamine ( vitamin B-1) then the onset of this disorder will be faster than the expectations. 

Men are more affected by this memory disorder as compared to women of the same age.

The onset of this disorder is more common and faster in men as compared to women.

Now it is important to keep in mind that this disorder does not prevail in all individuals who consume alcohol. 

It is most commonly caused by overconsumption of alcohol which leads to thiamine deficiency. Too much of everything is bad.

Wernicke encephalopathy (WE) is more common in people who consume alcohol excessively as compared to individuals who consume alcohol once or twice a week

Some of the most common symptoms of thiamine deficiency which will help track the time it takes to develop this chronic brain disorder are:

  • Vomiting 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling of nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Aggression in behavior
  • Poor ability to think or recall

Reversible and treatable brain disorder

If the patient is taken to the hospital at the beginning of the onset of this disease then the symptoms of this disease can be reversible. 

This is done by administering a high thiamine dosage in the patient. 

High levels of thiamine will help restore normal brain functioning. High levels of thiamine leads to high energy levels in the body.

Many patients suffering from WE have been treated because they were taken to the hospital earlier and the doctor could easily start the treatment plan with greater hope.

If you delay the treatment process then not only that the doctor won’t be able to cure the disease but also this memory disorder will lead to other problems in the body that can be very fatal which eventually leads to the death of the patient.

Therefore it is always advised to have monthly medical check-ups. Nothing should be more important than one’s mental and physical health.

Life becomes purposeless when you are not healthy both mentally and physically.

Mental health is equally as important as physical health.

The treatment of this mental disorder begins with the oral intake of thiamine in the form of pills or tablets.

This is done to increase the level of thiamine in the brain. The dosage of thiamine is and always should be prescribed by a medical doctor who is well trained and experienced. 

Another important step is to know the medical history of the patient. This will also help the doctor to find out if the patient had or currently has any other health problems.

For example, many cancer patients have acute malignancy but also suffer from this memory disorder.

Likewise, when a person is diagnosed with WE there are chances that this disorder may cause or link to other health problems including malnutrition, AIDS, cancer or even violent psychotic behavior. 

Always keep this in mind that memory disorder takes time to be cured.

It is not like that a patient will take a few tablets and he/she will be good to go.

The treatment involves the intake of proper medicines, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, therapy sessions, rehabilitate to improve memory.

In some cases, drug therapy is also needed for proper treatment. 

Therefore it is always recommended to take the patient to the hospital as soon as you notice one of the above-mentioned symptoms.

Never take any health problems lightly.

Saving someone’s life or making them feel better about themselves is a lot better than buying them a beautiful dress or a new car.

Health should always be your and everyone else’s priority. 


Most commonly asked questions related to Kornikoff’s syndrome are as follows:

What are symptoms of Korsakoff’s syndrome?

The most common symptoms of Korsakoff’s syndrome are 

– Loss of memory

– Loss of appetite

– Double vision

– Confabulation 

– Nausea

Can you die from Korsakoff’s syndrome?

Yes a person can die from Korsakoff’s syndrome.

The chances of death because of this disorder are higher as compared to the chances of survival.

What is Korsakoff’s syndrome and how does it represent?

Korsakoff’s syndrome is a chronic brain disorder that leads to memory loss because of thiamin deficiency in the brain.

Is Korsakoff’s progressive?

No, the Korsakoff is not progressive and it is a reversible brain disorder which is curable with improved and healthy diet and increase in thiamin intake.

How long does it take to develop Korsakoff’s syndrome?

It takes lesser time to develop Korsakoff’s syndrome as this disease has higher chances in younger individuals.

Is Korsakoff’s syndrome reversible?

Yes Korsakoff’s syndrome is reversible with good diet and increased thiamin intake to improve energy levels of the brain.


  1. What you should know about Alcohol-related brain damage – ARBD
  2. Read about alcohol dementia
  3. You might be suffering from Thiamine (Vitamin B1) Deficiency
  4. Symptoms of anxiety
  5. How to fight nausea
  6. How psychologist can help you