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Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome (WKS) is a brain disorder that impairs a person's thinking, eye movements, and balance and then causes long-term memory loss. The term actually describes two phases of the same condition.
Wernicke encephalopathy happens first. If the disease gets worse, Wernicke encephalopathy is followed by Korsakoff syndrome (Korsakoff psychosis). It is caused by not getting enough vitamin B1 (thiamine). This condition can permanently damage the areas of the brain that are responsible for memory. Wernicke encephalopathy is a medical emergency.
Symptoms of this condition may vary based on the stage of the disease.
Treatment for this condition needs to start early. If the condition is diagnosed and treated in the early stages, it can be reversed. If the condition is left untreated, it can cause permanent brain damage.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: ninds.nih.gov
National Organization for Rare Disorders: rarediseases.org
This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.
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