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Alcoholic Neuropathy: Remember, It Is Irreversible




Prolonged bouts of heavy drinking can lead to the accumulation of alcohol in the body’s tissues, which can unleash a load of harmful effects on the body including the permanent loss of peripheral nervous system functions’ for movement, motor coordination, and sensation.

In the medical setting, this is termed as alcoholic neuropathy. This illness has the potential to disable the person. According to statistics, this has affected 2/3 of people, who are suffering from the clinically diagnosed alcohol use disorder.

  • The cells found in the nervous system will not be able to function properly if not for the steady supply of important vitamins and minerals in the body, which includes thiamine, folate, niacin, and vitamins B6 and B12.
  • The excessive consumption of large amounts of alcohol can leach all of these nutrients away and cause the corresponding nerve cells to get sick and die. Once the nerve cells die, it will no longer regenerate. The side effects of alcoholic neuropathy and the condition itself are irreversible, also.
  • Both men and women who are abusers of alcohol usually have very poor diets. This tends to reinforce chronic shortages of nutrients in the nerve cells contributing to the overall gradual development of alcoholic neuropathy.

The majority of those who have been diagnosed with alcoholic neuropathy are aged 40 and 60.

The condition is usually characterized by pain and abnormal sensations or dysesthesias, mostly in their lower extremities. These parts of the bodies are usually resistant to treatment. Furthermore, experts note that malnutrition or a deficiency in thiamine, direct toxicity, or a family history of alcoholism can increase a person’s risk for alcoholic neuropathy. However, the precise role that such factors play in the development of alcoholic neuropathy remains to be unknown.

Also known for its anti-neuritic factors, Thiamine is essentially a metabolic vitamin.

A deficiency in Thiamine is closely linked with chronic alcoholism and is able to induce neuropathy in an alcoholic. Ethanol can diminish absorption of Thiamine in the intestine and reduce hepatic stores of this vitamin while impairing the process wherein thiamine is converted into its active form. So, if you or someone you know is abusing alcohol, you certainly have thiamine deficiency.

The clinical symptoms of this condition actually develop over several months.

Although there are cases where an acute and rapid progressive onset was noted, the symptoms include:

  • Abnormalities in gait, autonomic, sensory and motor functions.
  • Painful sensations accompanied by a burning sensation
  • Upper and Lower Extremities (arms, hands, legs, feet) are affected
  • Motor nerve damage
  • Atrophy or muscle weakness
  • Loss of muscular functions
  • Sensory nerve damage
  • Movement disorders
  • Pins and needles sensation
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Automatic nerve damage
  • Impotence
  • Overheating or abnormal intolerance to heat
  • Constipation

The nerve damage done by the overexposure to alcohol is incurable.

The body is not able to replace dead nerve cells; however, if the doctor diagnosed you with an alcohol-related nerve damage, it is important that you immediately adopt a healthier lifestyle and supply your body with enough nutrients that it needs for proper nerve functioning.

Vitamins and minerals may not bring back already dead nerve cells, but it can save damaged nerve cells. Your doctor can also prescribe pain medications, but you should stop drinking alcohol permanently. This decision will help make sure that the complications of alcoholic neuropathy will cease to worsen. 


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