Peripheral neuropathy is known to be caused by excessive alcohol consumption over a long period of time, usually a decade or more. The reasons for this are still debated, but there are several specific causes that are suspected by researchers.
Long-term alcohol abuse can damage the myelin sheath of peripheral neurons, which disrupts their functioning and interrupts transmission of nerve signals from the peripheral to the central nervous system.
This leads to the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy which are “phantom” sensations of tingling and burning and numbness in the body’s extremities. These feelings are first noticed usually in the feet because the nerves are farthest from the central nervous system there, and then usually progress to the hands.
If consumption of alcohol is not ceased, the nerve damage will spread to the core of the body and affect the autonomic nervous system which can lead to organ failure and sexual dysfunction, among other things.
Alcoholism can lead to vitamin B deficiency which is known to cause peripheral neuropathy
Alcoholics sometimes suffer from a deficiency of the water-soluble vitamins because they are flushed out of the body in its attempt to rid itself of alcohol. Vitamin B is one such vitamin and it is critical to the functioning of nerve cells.
A deficiency of vitamin B, especially thiamine or vitamin B-1, is known to be a cause of the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. One of the treatments for neuropathy is to ingest a B complex vitamin or neuropathy support formula vitamin daily, to eliminate this says a possible source of the symptoms.
Alcoholics often have poor nutritional habits which exacerbate symptoms
In addition, heavy drinkers will often have poor dietary habits and their nutritional intake is further restricted by their alcohol abuse. Nutrients are not absorbed properly in the body of alcoholics, because the body’s first order of business is to rid itself of the toxin that is alcohol so many nutrients pass through the digestive system unabsorbed.
Essential vitamins, minerals, and enzymes are flushed out of the body as it rids itself of alcohol. Alcohol is a diuretic because the liver and kidneys must use fluid from the bloodstream to filter out the toxins. Electrolytes and salts are also flushed out of the system which further disrupts the body’s nutritional balance.
This vicious cycle often leads to a prolonged period of nutritional deficiency for heavy drinkers and alcoholics. This exacerbates the nerve damage already caused by long-term alcohol toxicity.
Alcoholism is linked to diabetes mellitus which is a known to cause nerve damage
It is important to understand that alcohol is processed by the body as a simple sugar and because of this alcoholics are at a high risk of developing diabetes and the complications associated with. Most alcoholics not realize what they are doing to their body, and the correlation between alcohol abuse and diabetes.
Over one third of the sufferers of peripheral neuropathy develop the disease because of type II diabetes. High blood sugar is toxic to nerve cells just like alcohol is, and long-term exposure to excessive blood glucose levels damages the nerve endings and causes peripheral neuropathy.
Proper treatment for neuropathy caused by alcoholism
In order to successfully treat the symptoms and prevent the spread of the disease to the autonomic nervous system, there are several steps that must be taken. First, alcohol must be completely eliminated from the diet. If this is not done, it is almost certain that there will be no recovery.
Secondly, the patient should consume a healthy and nutritious diet consisting of unprocessed foods and an avoidance of sugars. Vitamin supplements especially the vitamin B complex can be used to supplement the diet. Blood glucose levels should be monitored and if the patient is a diabetic step should be taken to get this under control.
There are medications which can help with the suffering and pain caused by peripheral neuropathy. Neuropathy creams are designed specifically to deal with these symptoms, and pain medication may be necessary in extreme cases.
In some cases, peripheral neuropathy can be reversed and healed over a period of months and years. Nerve cells have a limited capacity to regenerate.