Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome: recognition and treatment
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Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome: recognition and treatment

Alexander Donnelly Staff nurse, Colman Centre for Specialist Rehabilitation Services, Norwich, England

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is a potentially debilitating and fatal condition that is caused by thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency in the brain. It can be treated effectively or prevented completely; however, the condition is often undiagnosed and inadequately managed. Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is commonly considered to be specific to individuals who misuse alcohol; however, there are many other predisposing factors and causes associated with the condition. This article aims to raise awareness of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, to enable nurses in all practice settings to recognise the signs, symptoms and risk factors associated with the condition and be informed about available treatments. Increased awareness aims to improve early diagnosis of the condition, enabling effective treatment and improving patients’ symptoms, such as cognitive impairment.

Nursing Standard. 31, 31, 46-53. doi: 10.7748/ns.2017.e10440



Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 07 February 2016

Accepted: 25 August 2016