Korsakoff’s syndrome

Korsakoff’s syndrome is characterized by the presence of a few symptoms. Basic is combination of violation of memory and thought polyneuropathy of lower extremities. Polyneuropathy – simultaneous destruction of many of the peripheral nerves. At the defeat of peripheral nerve all types of sensitiveness are violated, there can be paresis of lower extremities. This disease carries the name of the Russian psychiatrist Sergei Korsakoff (1854-1900), who first described it in the XIX century. Korsakoff’s syndrome is combination of neurology and amnestic syndrome.


  • Disorder of memory.
  • Temporal and spatial orientation is broken.
  • Polyneuritis of the lower extremities.
  • Emaciation.
  • Weakness.


It is assumed that Korsakoff’s syndrome shows up because of deficit of vitamins of group B (thiamine) and niacin (nicotinic acid). The cause is alcoholism. An alcohol strengthens the peristalsis of thin bowel, and food too quickly enters the large intestine, not having time to be exposed to processing and mastering in the small intestine. In addition, the hairs of bowels atrophy at alcoholism, the general area of surface of mucous membrane of thin bowel diminishes as a result, and greater part of food through a thin bowel passes undigested.


A basic condition of treatment is a complete abstinence from alcohol. The large doses of vitamins of group B are appointed, a feed with high maintenance of protein is required. Alcoholism is difficult to treat. Because success of treatment is conditioned by abstinence from alcohol, people with alcoholic dependence need the special help.

In no case a patient cannot accept an alcohol. To facilitate abstinence from alcohol, the patient is recommended to visit the groups of mutual help.

Most patients do not understand that the cause of Korsakoff’s syndrome is exactly alcoholism, and they do not consider themselves as patients. The characteristic sign of Korsakoff’s syndrome is feeling of euphoria. Therefore, patients, sufferings from this disease, are usually merry and carefree. Often only native people can satisfy the patient of necessity to visit a doctor.

Specifying a diagnosis, a doctor in conjunction with other specialists (neurologist and (or) psychiatrist) will plan the patient’s treatment.

Course of the disease

The first symptoms of Korsakoff’s syndrome – insomnia, bad mood and headache, in addition, a delirium tremens can be preceded it. The manifestations of Korsakoff’s syndrome are also pseudo-reminiscences and fabrications. The tables of contents of fabrications are unbelievable and unlikely histories in which patients play an active role usually. A spatio-temporal orientation is violated, also ability clear and logically to think disappear. The patient may be a child happy and carefree, but elation does not correspond to his physical condition. Patients with Korsakoff’s syndrome are utterly exhausted and weak. The function of sensible nerves is violated, therefore the sick poorly reacts on haptic irritations. Sometimes there are paresthesias (feeling of numbness, pricking, crawls of small ants, which are not caused by an external irritation), the sensitiveness of skin absents.

Is this syndrome dangerous?

The disease can proceed a few weeks, after passes gradually. However at alcoholism the defeat of cerebrum is possible. Finally, Korsakoff’s syndrome can go to the alcoholic dementia.

Alcoholism is not only cause of Korsakoff’s syndrome. The above-stated symptoms can arise up and after craniocerebral traumas, poisonings, some infectious diseases.