What Is Alcoholic Neuropathy & Can It Be Reversed?

Heavy alcohol consumption can cause damage to the peripheral nerves because it is one of the most toxic substances that can affect nerve health. As this happens, the ability of the nerves to transmit signals to and from the brain is seriously compromised. This complication leads to interference in the way signals are sent, leading to pain and discomfort, as well as muscle weakness and may require treatment.

Peripheral nerves are involved in the transmission of messages from the body to the central nervous system and back to the body. This form of neuropathy though very common is one of the few unknown side effects of consuming alcohol regularly. Binge drinkers who have had a long history of heavy alcohol consumption might experience some of the symptoms of neuropathy which includes pain, numbness, tingling, and loss of balance.

The peripheral nerves transmit waves mostly to the peripheral areas of the body from the spinal cord, which are predominantly made up of the limbs. This is why the extremities suffer the most when the damage occurs.

Functions of Peripheral Nerves

Peripheral nerves are actively involved in the following functions in the body:

  • ​Walking
  • ​Speech
  • ​Elimination of the bowel and urinary tract
  • Sexual arousal
  • Arm and leg

​Risk Factors of Alcoholic Neuropathy

  • ​Alcohol abuse, especially chronic alcoholics
  • ​Diabetes mellitus
  • ​Poor nutrition and unhealthy eating habits
  • Age
  • Liver, thyroid, kidney, and autoimmune disorders
  • Injuries
  • Deficiencies of some micronutrients

Tips for Maintaining Nerve Health

Take Vitamins

Even without treatment, vitamins like the B vitamins, vitamin C, and thiamine have been known to play a pivotal role in maintaining the integrity of the nerves. Deprivation of these vital nutrients heightens a person’s risk of developing alcoholic neuropathy.

Peptic ulcer

​Individuals suffering from peptic ulcers are usually mandated to use antacids which interferes with the absorption of minerals and vitamins. This leads to a depletion in the stores of essential vitamins like vitamin B12 and thiamine thereby aggravating the risk of alcoholic neuropathy.

Signs and Symptoms

Though alcoholic neuropathy is a disease that progresses slowly and may seem asymptomatic at first, it usually comes with its symptoms over time. These symptoms not only cause discomfort, but they also affect the quality of life.

A heavy drinker may not pinpoint that whatever symptoms he is experiencing might be a result of neuropathy. The chief symptoms of this dysfunction affect the sensations and functions of the nerves. Many affected individuals complain about a sharp, stabbing pain. The symptoms of alcoholic neuropathy are divided into three primary categories: sensory, motor, and systemic symptoms.

Sensory symptoms

The sensory symptoms of this disorder are the most common types of symptoms easily recognized. They include:

  • ​Chronic pain
  • ​Numbness and a loss of sensation
  • ​The feeling of numbness is usually described as pricking sensation of “pins and needles”
  • Burningpain
  • Tingling or an abnormal feeling around the hands, arms, fingers, legs, feet, or toes.
  • Nausea
  • Cuts, sores, or infections on the upper or lower limbs
  • Dizziness and light-headedness
  • Difficulty in walking a straight line, even when you have not consumed alcohol

​Motor symptoms

Motor symptoms include the symptoms which have an effect on the functionality of the affected areas. The most frequent forms of motor symptoms include:

  • ​Muscle spasms
  • ​The weakness of the extremities which can either be on the hands or the feet
  • ​The inability of the hands and feet to maintain proper coordination
  • Dead feeling around the hands, feet, legs, and arms
  • Loss of balance
  • Muscular atrophy
  • Muscle wasting

Systemic symptoms

Alcoholic neuropathy can have deleterious effects on the internal organs of the body. These symptoms are exhibited in the following ways

  • ​Urinary incontinence
  • ​Constipation
  • ​Diarrhea
  • Changes in bowel movement
  • Insomnia

Heightened Sensitivity in Alcoholic Neuropathy

The most recognizable symptom of neuropathy caused by chronic alcoholism is a heightened sensitivity to external stimuli like touch or changes in temperature. Individuals may experience pain in the upper and lower limbs with the lightest touch or slightest pressure. Also, some people may feel intense pain after being exposed to cold temperatures; the same applies to those who have been exposed to heat. The pain is sometimes intolerable.

Can Alcoholic Neuropathy Be Reversed?

Often, destruction of the peripheral nerves caused by alcoholic neuropathy is permanent. When this occurs, removal of the affected parts is carried out as a curative measure. At other times, the effects may be temporary which makes it easy for the condition to be easily reversed.

The first line of action taken when alcoholic neuropathy is suspected is to cut back on the consumption of alcohol. Avoidance of alcohol and advice from a medical practitioner usually helps revolve the medical condition in no time.

Alcoholic neuropathy can be successfully treated, especially if there is timely intervention. If the damage is detected early and treated immediately can help in the reversal of alcoholic neuropathy, especially in uncomplicated conditions. This is why it is imperative to examine the extent of the nerve damage and how severe the symptoms are.

Regeneration of nerve cells is possible by administering medications and routine care; however, if the nerves have been severely destroyed, recovery might take longer time.

In addition, when considering how easy it is to reverse alcoholic neuropathy, it is important to put into consideration other factors like the presence of an underlying disease condition. Patients with complications result from other disorders may exhibit recovery only to a certain extent.

Prevention of Alcoholic Neuropathy

The following lifestyle habits can help prevent this disorder from occurring

  • ​Limit alcohol overuse
  • ​Stop consumption of alcohol when symptoms start to manifest
  • ​Eating a healthy and adequate diet
  • Take vitamin supplements when necessary
  • Seek professional help when necessary

​Dietary Supplementation

As we grow older, the body’s ability to convert some vitamins into forms that can be easily utilized by the body is compromised. Moreover, poor feeding habits make it quite difficult for us to get enough micronutrients that are needed by the body for the proper functioning of the nervous system.

This is why it is important for people, especially those who suffer from nerve dysfunction, to get vitamins and minerals from exogenous sources like supplements. 

Supplementation with top-recommended brands like Nerve Renew has been proven to slow down the progression of symptoms associated with neuropathy. This product contains ingredients which are beneficial in maintaining the health of nerves and renewing nerve cells that have been damaged. Some of these ingredients include Methylcobalamin, Benfotiamine, and stabilized R-Alpha lipoic acid, also known as alpha-lipoic acid).