Peripheral neuropathy caused by long-term alcohol abuse is a horrible form of suffering for those who must endure it. The pain, numbness, and weakness in the affected areas can be debilitating and severely lower a person’s quality of life.
However, there can be comfort taken in the fact that many cases of alcoholic neuropathy may be successfully reversed if proper treatment is performed. The patient must be determined to change his lifestyle and remove the destructive factors from his life that so damaged his nerves.
Successful healing of the nerves is also dependent on the extent of the damage and the progression of the disease already incurred. Nerve cells do have a limited capacity to regenerate themselves, but dead or severely damaged nerves will not respond to therapy.
More often than not, however, a patient who is diligent with his treatment will experience a significant improvement in his symptoms over a period of time. It will take months or even years for the debilitating pain to fade away, but most patients report that they do see some relief and some people even experience a full remission of their neuropathy symptoms.
All alcohol must be removed from the diet
It goes without saying that the first thing the patient must do is stop drinking alcohol. Otherwise, it is almost certain that the disease will progress and the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy will get worse.
Neuropathy is a progressive disease and if the underlying cause, in this case alcohol abuse, is not eliminated then the nerve damage will most assuredly spread to the autonomic nervous system. When this happens, the internal organs are affected which can cause sexual dysfunction and digestive problems, among other things.
Vitamin B supplements, especially thiamine, are often helpful to suppress alcoholic neuropathy
Many alcoholics suffer from vitamin B deficiency due to the fact that water-soluble vitamins are flushed from the body in its attempt to rid itself of alcohol. Because of this, chronic low levels of vitamin B can exacerbate symptoms of peripheral neuropathy in heavy drinkers.
Vitamin B, especially vitamin B1 or thiamine, is a critical nutrient necessary for the proper functioning of nerve cells. It is a very good idea for recovering alcoholics to take a daily multivitamin as well as a daily vitamin B complex vitamin. There are also specially formulated neuropathy support vitamins which include a heavy dose of the B complex, as well as additional herbs and nutrients known or suspected to help with the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.
A healthy diet is key to reversing your symptoms
Alcoholism is also associated with malnutrition because the digestive system of alcoholics is not efficient at absorbing vitamins and nutrients. Much of its energy is spent in its attempt to rid itself of the toxin of alcohol, so many important nutrients pass through the digestive system without being absorbed by the body.
Your chances of reversing your symptoms of peripheral neuropathy will be greatly enhanced by undertaking an ambitious diet program. You should focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods and trying to eliminate simple sugars from your diet.
Complex carbohydrates, which break down slowly in the body and release sugar over a long period of time, are very beneficial. Avoid coffee, caffeine, and other known diuretics. If you smoke, try to quit. A new dedication to proper nutrition will greatly help to heal your damaged nerves.
Get tested for diabetes and keep your blood sugar levels tightly controlled
Alcoholics often suffer from type II diabetes because alcohol is a simple sugar which is quickly absorbed in the stomach. Alcoholism wreaks havoc on the body’s ability to regulate blood glucose levels. It is imperative that you have your blood sugar levels checked, and if you are diabetic or in the diabetic range that you take steps to get it controlled and closely monitored.
Diabetes is the number one cause of peripheral neuropathy because high blood sugar is extremely damaging to nerves over the long-term. Even though you have quit drinking, if you do not control your blood sugar level appropriately, the peripheral neuropathy will continue to spread unabated.
Over-the-counter and prescription medications are available for the pain
Until your symptoms lessen or go away, you may make use of medications available that are designed specifically to help alleviate the pain and suffering associated with neuropathy. Neuropathy support formula vitamins are excellent.
There is also neuropathy cream which can be applied directly to the affected areas and helps to alleviate the tingling and numbness. If the pain is extreme, you may also wish to speak with your your doctor about prescription pain medicine for neuropathy.