Posts tagged "neuropathy"

What Is Alcohol Neuropathy?

People may recognize the action of consuming an alcoholic beverage to “calm the nerves,” but people may not recognize the dangers of alcohol neuropathy. The generalized term, neuropathy is used to describe issues with the nerves. Alcohol neuropathy is more probable in those with alcoholism and can remain prevalent after an individual receives treatment for alcoholism.

Alcohol neuropathy occurs when a person drinks obsessively over a long period of time and the nerves become damaged. Once the nerves are damaged, they are then unable to transfer signals to other parts of the body.

The peripheral nervous system is the area mainly affected by alcohol neuropathy and controls the motor/sensory skills.  This nervous system consists of:

  • Nerves and ganglia
  • Other portions of the brain
  • The spinal cord

While the exact cause of alcohol neuropathy is unknown, there are two factors found to contribute to the development of it. The first factor is in the fact that alcohol poisons the nerves over time. The second factor contributing to the development of alcohol neuropathy is a vitamin and mineral deficiency from those who struggle with alcoholism.

Nearly half of all people who abuse alcohol heavily, end up with some form of neuropathy. It usually takes about 10 years of heavy alcohol abuse for an individual to develop alcohol neuropathy.  However, treatment options are available for those in need.

Identifying the symptoms

Along with being a constant and heavy drinker, there are other symptoms to identify if an individual has alcohol neuropathy. The symptoms include:

  • Numbness in the extremities
  • Abnormal sensations
  • Heat intolerance
  • Impotence (may occur)
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Muscle weakness
  • Cramping, aches and spasms

In more severe cases, the damage branches to the autonomic nerves, which control internal body functions such as urinating and bowel movements. In the severe cases, people may experience incontinence, urinary leakage, feeling like the bladder isn’t completely emptied and difficulty starting urination.

People may not realize what they are experiencing, the symptoms generally start out mild and worsen as the alcohol abuse continues. The symptoms can greatly effect one’s quality of life and cause permanent damage to the body. A diagnosis of alcohol neuropathy will involve a vitamin blood analysis, electromyography (EMG) or a thyroid function test. From the diagnosis and testing, a medical professional can develop a treatment.

Possible treatment options

While treatment for alcohol neuropathy exists, it is much more effective when the condition is caught early on. Treatment for alcohol neuropathy consists of preventing injuries, managing symptoms and maximizing abilities.

Physicians strive for non-narcotic treatments, but often prescribe the lowest dosage of narcotics possible to help control the pain; reducing the risk of dependency. People receiving treatment for alcohol neuropathy may also attend physical therapy, while using splints and compression stockings. For those with bladder problems, diuretic may be used. In the severe cases, catheterization may be needed. Vitamin and mineral supplements can be administered to correct any underlying nutritional deficiencies and prevent further degeneration.

Even though most of the symptoms are treatable, patients with alcohol neuropathy do not always respond well to treatment. For these people, the issues of alcohol neuropathy may plague them for the duration of his or her life.

Drug detox centers with a program for alcoholics can treat the alcoholism early on in order to prevent neuropathy. These centers equip the patient with the skills necessary to continue a sober life after the treatment program.

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Posted by JamesJones - April 13, 2016 at 1:50 pm

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