Alcoholic neuropathy is a decreased level of nerve functioning due to damage caused by chronic alcohol abuse. The autonomic nerves, which regulate internal body functions, are impacted by this condition. The nerves controlling movement and sensation are disrupted and cause symptoms of numbness in the extremities, muscle weakness or cramping and abnormal sensations throughout the body. Alcoholic neuropathy is likely to be the result of the combination of toxicity of alcohol impairing the nerves and nutritional deficiencies from excessive alcohol use. The damage is irreversible, but recovery to prevent additional damage is possible.
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Things you need
- Over-the-counter pain relievers
Abstain from drinking alcohol. This is the single most important portion of recovering from neuropathy, since continued alcohol use further poisons the nerves and perpetuates the nutritional deficits.
Adjust your diet to include essential nutrients. Niacin, vitamin E and the B vitamins are crucial to nerve health. Supplement your diet with daily vitamins that include B complex or find a multivitamin that includes the essential vitamins for nerve health. Essential B vitamins include B1, B6, B12, and B3, or niacin. Folic acid, biotin and vitamin A are important for nutritional health. Fruits, vegetables and wholegrains also contain important vitamins and nutrients for recovery.
Manage symptoms of pain with minimal use of over-the-counter medications. Symptoms of pain and discomfort can accompany alcoholic neuropathy. The use of over-the-counter pain relievers with paracetamol can help, but consult your doctor first to determine if medication is appropriate in controlling pain symptoms. High blood pressure, constipation and diarrhoea are symptoms associated with alcoholic neuropathy. Discuss your options in treatment for these symptoms with your doctor.
Take precautions to avoid injury due to reduced sensations of body parts. Remaining aware of simple acts that increase the risk of injury such as burning yourself in bath water or pressure from tight shoes is important in preventing further damage.
Utilise physical rehabilitation options to improve mobility and increase independent functioning. In some cases, physical therapy is indicated, depending on severity of symptoms. Consult your physician about your need for physical therapy and for referral. Orthopaedic appliances such as splints may help to maintain limb positioning. Prevent orthostatic hypotension by wearing elastic stockings and keeping your head elevated during sleep.
Tips and warnings
- Smoking cigarettes increases your risk of circulation problems.
- Get a weekly massage to improve your circulation.
- Use the least amount of medications possible to prevent cross-addiction.
- Avoid staying in one position for too long as this can increase the chance of cramping.
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