Alcohol-Related Neurologic Disease: Types, Signs, Treatment

The term polyneuropathy is used when multiple peripheral nerves are damaged. The prevalence of PN ranges from 2.4% to 8% per 100,000 individuals worldwide. The Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy and the US Food and Drug Administration estimate that 20 million people in the US experience PN. Neuropathic syndromes may develop from diabetes mellitus, vasculitis secondary to immune-mediated diseases, genetic disorders, malignancies, infections, vitamin deficiencies, medications, toxins, trauma, compression, and chronic heavy alcohol consumption.

  • A person can improve their outlook by significantly reducing or cutting off their alcohol intake and ensuring that they are receiving the right balance of nutrients.
  • A doctor may also want to test the functioning of the kidneys, liver, and thyroid.
  • People with alcoholic neuropathy who stop drinking may alleviate their current symptoms and prevent further nerve deterioration.
  • Vigilant foot care and the use of shoes with an enlarged toe box are useful in preventing foot ulcers.

Conditions That May Mimic Alcoholic Neuropathy

The true incidence of alcoholic neuropathy in the general population is unknown, and figures vary widely depending on the definition of chronic alcoholism and the criteria used to detect and classify neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy refers to damage or disease of the nerves that carry messages to and from alcohol neuropathy stages the brain or spinal column and the rest of the body. Peripheral neuropathy can have many causes unrelated to alcohol consumption, and it was previously thought that when it was found in alcoholics it was merely the result of poor nutrition in alcoholics as well as alcohol’s direct impact on nutrients.

alcohol neuropathy

Management of alcohol-induced peripheral neuropathy

Further research has confirmed the role of thiamine in the pathogenesis of ALN—the well-balanced diet and vitamin B1 supplementation significantly decreased the severity of ALN symptoms [147, 148]. However, the limitations of those studies include the lack of the possibility to measure the amount of vitamin B1 in the serum; further, patients who were involved in the study have received an unrefined form of the supplement. Later, the results have been supported by Victor and Adams (1961)—among 12 patients with ALN, neuropathic symptoms were alleviated just after thiamine supplementation, even though the alcohol consumption was previously completely reduced [149].

How to Prevent Alcoholic Neuropathy

In people with alcoholic neuropathy, the peripheral nerves have been damaged by too much alcohol use. The peripheral nerves transmit signals between the body, the spinal cord, and the brain. The prevalence of alcohol-induced PN varies depending on demographics and the diagnostic criteria used in individual research studies. According to studies by the CDC, nearly 30% of adults in the US consume alcohol excessively.

alcohol neuropathy

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How soon does alcoholism cause neuropathy?

  • But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drinking less or not at all may help you avoid neurological harm.
  • Several treatment options and interventions can help a person recover from alcohol dependence.
  • Sometimes symptoms get better, especially if caused by a condition that can be treated.
  • Patients with small fiber neuropathy commonly report burning pain and may tell you, “My feet burn.” Patients may be hypersensitive to a stimulus (hyperesthesia).
  • Miyoshi et al. found that 5 weeks after ethanol treatment, the mechanical nociceptive threshold was significantly decreased and is further reduced up to 10 weeks [80].
  • Patients present with pain, ataxia and parasthesias in the lower extremities.
  • The primary aim of this systematic review was to establish the prevalence, character, and risk factors of peripheral neuropathy amongst chronic alcohol abusers and to identify the most appropriate management strategies.
  • Physical therapy should be included in the treatment plan to improve flexibility, strength, and balance.
  • Thus, there is an urgent need to screen the vitamin E isoforms, especially tocotrienol for evaluating clinical efficacy in patients with alcoholic neuropathy.
  • However, alternative therapies do not have side effect and tackle nutritional deficiencies and oxidative stress.
  • ALN can manifest differently, and patients might experience one, two, or even more clinical manifestations of ALN.

Sensory, motor, and autonomic symptoms

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