Specialising in Korsakoff Syndrome

As William Simpsons, one of the conditions that we specialise in is Korsakoff Syndrome, and residents and families would often like to know more about the condition. 

We thought it would be helpful to give a brief description of Korsakoff syndrome, and point readers in the direction of more detail information online, too.

What is Korsakoff Syndrome?

Korsakoff syndrome, which can also be known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, is a chronic memory disorder caused by a deficiency of vitamin B-1 (thiamine).

Commonly, Korsakoff syndrome is caused by the misuse of alcohol, but other conditions can also spark the syndrome, such as AIDS, cancer that has spread throughout the body, severe infections or poor nutrition.

What are the Symptoms of Korsakoff Syndrome?

Symptoms of Korsakoff syndrome can include:

  • Trouble learning new information
  • Inability to remember recent events
  • Gaps in long-term memory

Additionally, some of those with Korsakoff may make up information that they can’t remember (confabulation), and believe the invented stories to be true.  There can also be a risk of auditory or visual hallucination – seeing or hearing things that aren’t there.

How is Korsakoff Syndrome Diagnosed?

A physician may offer a diagnosis of Korsakoff syndrome based on their best judgement about what is causing the symptoms.  A thorough clinical evaluation and detail of the patient’s history will be principal tools used in diagnosis.

Nutrition, use of alcohol, current and past behaviours and any other known conditions can all be used to help in the diagnosis of Korsakoff Syndrome.  Additionally, routine tests may be used to rule out other disorders with similar symptoms.

Can you recover from Korsakoff Syndrome?

There is always the possibility that individuals will make a full recovery from Korsakoff syndrome, and many others see an improvement in symptoms even if the condition stays with them.

Where can I find out more about Korsakoff Syndrome?

There are lots of helpful online resources with detailed information about Korsakoff syndrome. Here are some that we looked at when writing this blog:

Alzheimer’s Society

Alzheimer’s Scotland

Alzheimer’s Association

Dementia UK

Priory Group

Young Dementia UK