Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Alcoholic Encephalopathy Treatment

General treatment for Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome includes avoiding alcohol and vitamin B supplements and the strict avoidance of alcohol. A person with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome may require treatment for alcoholism.

However, treatment for Wernicke's encephalopathy is an emergency, which includes the timely administration of thiamine (Vitamin B1). Thiamine should be given before other forms of therapy, such as intravenous fluids and glucose. Magnesium and potassium supplements may be required in those who have low blood levels.

Treatment for Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome includes:


Treatment may improve the confusion, delirium, difficult walking and abnormal eye movements. However, the loss of intellectual ability and memory problems do not improve. Close observation for alcohol withdrawal symptoms will be important

Additional treatment for Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome may include:

Alcoholic Encephalopathy Questions For Doctor

The following are some important questions to ask before and after the treatment of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome

Questions to ask before treatment:

  • What are my treatment options?
    • Is surgery an option for me?
  • What are the risks associated with treatment?
  • Do I need to stay in the hospital?
    • How long will I be in the hospital?
  • What are the complications I should watch for?
  • How long will I be on medication?
  • What are the potential side effects of my medication?
  • Does my medication interact with nonprescription medicines or supplements?
  • Should I take my medication with food?

Questions to ask after treatment:
  • Do I need to change my diet?
  • When can I resume my normal activities?
  • When can I return to work?
  • Do I need a special exercise program?
  • Will I need physical therapy?
  • Will I need occupational therapy?
  • What else can I do to reduce my risk for having Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome again?
  • How often will I need to see my doctor for checkups?
  • What local support and other resources are available?

Alcoholic Encephalopathy Specialist

Physicians from the following specialties evaluate and treat Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome:

Continue to Alcoholic Encephalopathy Home Care

Last Updated: Jun 9, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Alcoholic Encephalopathy References
  1. Day E, Bentham P, Callaghan R, Kuruvilla T, George S. Thiamine for Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome in people at risk from alcohol abuse. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;(1):CD004033. [14974055]
  2. Jauhar P, Montaldi D. Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome and the use of brain imaging. Alcohol Alcohol Suppl. 2000 May-Jun;35(1):21-3. [11304072]
  3. Thomson AD. Mechanisms of vitamin deficiency in chronic alcohol misusers and the development of the Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Alcohol Alcohol Suppl. 2000 May-Jun;35(1):2-7. [11304071]
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