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Understanding Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome: A Comprehensive Exploration

Thomas Johan

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS) is a complex neuropsychiatric disorder resulting from thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency, primarily associated with chronic alcohol misuse. This syndrome comprises two distinct phases: Wernicke’s encephalopathy, characterized by acute neurological symptoms, and Korsakoff’s syndrome, marked by persistent amnesia and cognitive deficits. Despite being preventable and treatable, WKS remains a significant clinical challenge due to underdiagnosis and delayed intervention. This review provides a comprehensive overview of the clinical presentation, etiology, pathophysiology, diagnostic criteria, and management strategies for Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Understanding the multifaceted nature of this disorder is essential for healthcare professionals to enhance early recognition, intervention, and prevention. Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS) is a neuropsychiatric disorder resulting from thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency, often associated with chronic alcohol misuse. It manifests as a combination of acute Wernicke’s encephalopathy and chronic Korsakoff syndrome, leading to a range of cognitive and neurological impairments. Wernicke’s encephalopathy presents with acute symptoms such as confusion, ataxia, and oculomotor abnormalities, while Korsakoff syndrome is characterized by severe memory deficits and confabulation. Early recognition and prompt thiamine supplementation are crucial for preventing irreversible neurological damage. This paper provides an overview of the clinical features, etiology, diagnosis, and management of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, highlighting the importance of a multidisciplinary approach in patient care.