Alcoholic Polyneuropathy Signs, Symptoms, And Treatment

But if you have developed neuropathy as a result of alcohol use, it’s important to stop drinking as soon as possible. Professional and peer help through programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous or other substance abuse programs can help you reduce your alcohol consumption. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best treatment plan to start on your road to recovery. Diagnosis usually involves a healthcare provider collecting a medical history, performing a medical and neurological exam, and performing blood and urine tests. Treatment options include steps to quit alcohol use and managing symptoms of the disease. If you’re looking to get tested for alcoholic neuropathy, you will need to submit a copy of your medical history along with completing a physical examination and possibly submitting blood work.

The prevalence of misuse of different alcoholic beverages in the age-divided sample is shown in Table 2. On ENG grounds, the presence of polyneuropathy was documented in 144 subjects (48.6%), out of whom 121 (57.4% of total male subjects) are men and 23 are women (26.4% of total female subjects). This article reviews alcoholic neuropathy and its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

Understanding and treating alcoholic neuropathy

For the most part this review consists of non-interventional studies for which generally accepted tools to evaluate risk of bias are not available. To assess the bias in these we applied the Jadad score which takes into consideration quality of randomisation and blinding as well as reporting of withdrawals to assess bias in RCTs [9]. All RCTs that were included As well as this, where interventional studies are cited a clear description of their design is in text to allow the reader to evaluate that articles risk of bias. Some experts believe it has more to do with the alcohol’s activation of mGlue5 receptors, or perhaps its ability to trigger the sympathoadrenal and hypothalami-pituitary-adrenal axis.

  • Over time, these symptoms usually progress proximally and symmetrically.
  • Prior to admission, all subjects attended a preliminary interview with a physician and/or psychologist aimed at evaluating not only physical status, but also their determination to break an often long-standing dependency.
  • In severe cases of alcohol addiction, when a liver transplant is necessary, there have been some instances of reduced symptoms, post-op, but not even a transplant can abate the symptoms of late-stage alcoholic neuropathy.
  • 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.

This study found that the response to treatment depended upon the severity of neuropathy and whether there was severe cirrhosis. No patients with grade III (severe sensory impairment, absent reflexes, foot drop, muscle wasting) neuropathy showed clinical improvement over the 4-week period, but 4/8 did show an improvement over 3–6 months. Amongst those who did not respond to thiamine, two patients with grade I neuropathy and one with grade II responded with the correction of low circulating nicotinic acid. One patient with grade I neuropathy responded with the correction of low pantothenic acid.

How to Treat Alcoholic Neuropathy

Immunotherapy was given only in patient 4, who received 1 course of plasma exchange, and in patient 5, who received 1 course of intravenous IgG. In both patients, we learned the true extent of alcohol abuse only some days after admission. Daily physiotherapy was administered and continued after discharge to rehabilitation hospitals. Within months, all patients regained the ability to walk, while living abstinent from alcohol. Patients 1, 3, and 5 reached a functional classification score of 2 after 6, 11, and 1.5 months, respectively; patient 2 reached a score of 3 after 4.5 months; and patient 4 reached a score of 1 after 4.5 months.

This will either stop you from developing alcohol-related neuropathy or reduce the severity of symptoms. Drinking alcohol can also cause nutritional deficiencies by preventing the body’s ability to process, transport, and absorb important nutrients like thiamine, vitamin E, and B12. Those with alcohol use disorder tend to have an inadequate diet which contributes to these nutrient deficiencies. The deficiencies in these essential nutrients can affect overall health and nerve function. Alcoholic Neuropathy could be a severe condition caused by excessive alcohol use harm to the nerves ends up in reduced quality, uncommon sensations within the limbs, and loss of some bodily functions. If we tend to recognise symptoms early, it should scale back the severity.

Choose Recovery Over Addiction

It is possible that hepatic dysfunction and alcoholic toxicity each cause neuropathy independently, and that there is frequently overlap between the two. It may also be that comorbid hepatic dysfunction is a risk factor for alcohol-related peripheral neuropathy. Further studies are required to develop a greater understanding of the interaction these entities. Uniquely, Vittadini and colleagues found a relationship between the type of alcohol consumed and neuropathy. Specifically, the study demonstrated worse NCS study dysfunction amongst wine drinkers, than those who drank beer or spirits alone [6].

alcohol neuropathy

With muscle weakness comes a whole host of additional problems such as increased risk of injury, loss of bladder and bowel control, and sexual dysfunction. Fennelly and colleagues evaluated the response to vitamin therapy in 29 individuals with alcohol-related neuropathy [30]. Patients were admitted and treated with a diet containing thiamine, nicotinic acid, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, folic acid, and vitamin B12.

Outlook of Alcoholic Neuropathy

Until symptoms become serious, many people may ignore or neglect their neuropathy. Alcohol can also cause depletion of some important nutrients, leading to deficiencies. Nutrient deficiencies can over time have a serious impact on the nerves, resulting in mild to severe nerve damage.

  • This damage prevents the nerves from communicating information from one body area to another.
  • Clinically, these patients had very rapidly (within 8 days) progressed to a quadriplegic state with bulbar involvement in 4 patients and mechanical ventilation in 3 patients.
  • In 1986, Feasby et al8 described an acute axonal form of GBS in 5 patients in whom inexcitable motor nerves were the electrophysiological hallmark.

Since nutritional deficiencies are partly to blame for alcoholic neuropathy, supplementation with vitamin B12, folate, vitamin E, and thiamine may be recommended. Alcoholic neuropathy is also caused by nutritional deficiency, as well as toxins that build up in the body. Alcohol decreases the absorption of nutrients, such as protein alcohol neuropathy and vitamin B12, causing significant deficits that affect many areas of the body, including the nerves. Constant pain in the hands or feet is one of the most bothersome aspects of alcoholic neuropathy. As the condition progresses, the pain may vary in intensity, sometimes diminishing for months at a time before worsening again.

Treatment Process

Multimodal sensory loss of glove and stocking–type distribution was accompanied by painful paresthesia or myalgia. Ataxia was of sensory type, and 1 patient additionally showed features of cerebellar ataxia. No patient displayed cranial nerve involvement, urinary or fecal incontinence, or central nervous system signs. Autonomic disturbances were present in all patients, consisting of hyperhidrosis or tachycardia.

Another additional assessment may include imaging tests of the brain and spinal cord. Conclusions 
Excluding other factors, we assume that in these patients the combination of alcohol abuse and malnutrition caused severe acute axonal polyneuropathy. Its distinction from Guillain-Barré syndrome is important because treatment requires balanced diet, vitamin supplementation, and abstinence from alcohol, while immunotherapy may not be indicated. Patients with alcoholic neuropathy typically present with a history of chronic consumption of alcohol and an insidious onset of distal lower extremity paresthesias, dysesthesias, or weakness. The most common presenting complaint seems to be paresthesias in the feet and toes. Over time, these symptoms usually progress proximally and symmetrically.

Symptoms can include pain, numbness, tingling, loss of balance and coordination, muscle weakness, problems with digestion, and other issues. Alcoholic neuropathy is one of the most common adverse effects of chronic alcohol consumption. There is damage to the nerves due to the direct toxic effect of alcohol and the malnutrition induced by it. Patients present with pain, ataxia and parasthesias in the lower extremities. This activity describes the evaluation and management of alcoholic neuropathy and reviews the role of the interprofessional team in improving care for patients with this condition. Peer-reviewed studies have estimated that in the United States alone, 65 percent of those with alcohol use disorder also have alcoholic neuropathy.

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