Wernicke’s encephalopathy (WE), an acute neuropsychiatric condition, is caused by thiamine deficiency. Traditionally, it has been associated with patients with a background of alcoholism. However, in the past few decades, with increasing trends in the incidence of WE among patients without a history of alcohol consumption, a pressing need was felt to examine the existing guidelines for the management of WE and its sequelae. The need for a revision was felt as the guidelines for the management of WE were developed around the premise that this affliction is observed mainly among alcoholics. In light of the opportunity presented to us by one of our patients who did not ‘fit the bill’ of a traditional case of WE, we decided to compare and contrast the management of WE among patients with and without a background of alcoholism. After analyzing the available data on WE among alcoholics and non-alcoholics, we concluded that a high degree of suspicion should be kept in mind if any of the classical features are observed, with a special emphasis on eliciting the underlying causes through a detailed history. Furthermore, thiamine supplementation at a lower dose of 100–200 mg should be initiated first, followed by laboratory and radiological investigations.
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