What's the treatment for Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome?
The goals of treatment of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome are to control symptoms as much as possible and to prevent progression of the disorder. Hospitalization is required for initial control of symptoms.
If the person is lethargic, unconscious, or comatose, monitoring and care appropriate to the condition may be required. The airway should be monitored and protected as appropriate.
Thiamine (vitamin B1) may improve symptoms of confusion or delirium, difficulties with vision and eye movement, and muscleincoordination. Vitamin B1 may be given by injection into a vein or a muscle, or by mouth.
Thiamine does not generally improve loss of memory and intellect associated with Korsakoff psychosis.
Total abstinence from alcohol is required to prevent progressive loss of brain function and damage to peripheral nerves. A well-balanced, nourishing diet is recommended.
Abstinence or moderate alcohol use and adequate nutrition reduce the risk of developing Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. If a heavy drinker is determined not to quit, thiamine supplementation and a good diet may help prevent the development of this condition, but not if damage has already occurred.