Wernicke encephalopathy is caused by thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency. The deficiency may be caused by poor nutrition, problems absorbing vitamins, or both.
Vitamin B deficiency is common in those with
alcohol use disorder
(AUD). Excessive intake of alcohol is associated with poor diets and damage to the intestines that make it difficult to absorb vitamins. However, not everyone with AUD develops Wernicke encephalopathy. A combination of genes and diet may play a role.
Factors that may increase your chances of Wernicke encephalopathy:
Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Patient website. Available at: https://patient.info/doctor/wernicke-korsakoff-syndrome. Updated September 19, 2014. Accessed December 21, 2017.
Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Radiopaedia website. Available at: https://radiopaedia.org/articles/wernicke-korsakoff-syndrome. Accessed December 21, 2017
Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Wernicke-Korsakoff-Syndrome-Information-Page. Accessed December 21, 2017.
Last reviewed November 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 11/16/2015
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