How Does Alcohol Cause Neuropathy? Symptoms And Treatment

Alcoholic neuropathy is a condition resulting from damage to the nerves and brain due to chronic alcohol abuse. Consumption of alcohol for long period can have detrimental effect on health and organs of the body. We all know alcohol is toxic to liver, but very few know the fact that alcohol can also cause neuronal injury. It can damage both central and peripheral nervous system. In medical parlance, the condition is termed as alcoholic neuropathy.

In this condition nerves located in feet, hands, gastrointestinal tract, reproductive system including brain all are affected.

Although the exact etiology is not clear, doctors speculate long term abuse of alcohol to be one of the reasons. Some also believe nutritional deficiency and poor dietary intake due to excessive drinking as the cause.

Symptoms of alcohol neuropathy develop after a period of time of alcohol abuse. Patient experiences pins and needle in hands and feet, muscle weakness and cramps, impotence, etc. Treatment consists of abstaining alcohol, supplementary vitamin B complex and proper food intake. Over a period of time, the condition can improve; however, if the patient ignores to take the treatment, there can be permanent nerve damage.

Signs And Symptoms Of Alcoholic Neuropathy

The symptoms of alcoholic neuropathy are slow in onset. They may take number of months to develop. Usually they occur due to long term abuse of alcohol. Both movement and sensation are affected. It may be mild or severe and disabling. Moreover these symptoms can affect the day to day living of a person.

  • Pins and needles feeling in arms and leg.
  • Weakness in muscles of leg and arms.
  • Burning sensation in soles, legs, finger and arms.
  • Numbness or loss of sensation in arms and legs.
  • Momentary loss of memory. Person finds difficulty in recollecting any event quickly. He is poor in decision making.
  • Mobility of extremities is affected.
  • It can lead to loss of control of urine and stool control.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Vision problems that may lead to double vision or decrease in vision.
  • Nausea and vomiting.

How Does Alcohol Cause Neuropathy?

Alcohol neuropathy is a health condition that occurs when the nervous system is damaged due to excessive consumption of alcohol over a period of time and subsequent nutritional deficiency occurring due alcohol abuse. Researchers therefore believe both direct toxic effect and related nutritional deficiency to be the cause. A person who is drinking alcohol in large amount for more than 10 years is at a higher risk of developing alcoholic neuropathy.

More often alcoholics are poor eaters. They often skip their meals or eat any type of food. People who drink too much of alcohol daily, often suffer from loss of appetite, gastritis which decreases the intake of food. It also damages the inner lining of stomach and intestine which ultimately reduces absorption of vital nutrients.

All this combined together causes nutritional deficiency that may lead to alcoholic neuropathy. Vitamin B1 or thiamine deficiency is frequently associated with this condition.

Treatment For Alcoholic Neuropathy

The first requirement for treating alcohol neuropathy is that patient should stop drinking alcohol. Secondly he has to increase intake of nutritious diet which consists of plenty of vegetables, fruits and other food items that are rich source of vitamins and minerals.

Supplementary vitamins are often prescribed by the doctor to treat alcohol neuropathy. In some cases, to alleviate pain and tingling pain killers are used for few days.

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