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Long term excess alcohol intake can take a toll on many facets of our health. Add alcoholic neuropathy to the list. This is a type of nerve damage that can result from drinking to excess. It affects the nerves in the hands, feet, arms, and legs. It can also affect the bowel, urinary system, and other parts of the body.
This neuropathy damages the nerves that connect between the limbs and the spinal cord. Also the organs that affect the senses, such as eyes, nose, ears, skin, and tongue are part of that nerve system. Alcoholism causes damage along these peripheral nerves.
Although it is possible to halt the progression of the nerve tissue damage, the damage can be permanent. To help the person quit drinking they will need formal treatment from a rehab program. They will also need to be treated for the depleted nutrients, such as folate, vitamins E, B6 and B12.
What is Alcoholic Neuropathy?
When someone who is a heavy drinker begins to notice tingling in their limbs it is a sign they may have neuropathy. This happens when the nerves have been damaged by too much alcohol use.
Alcoholic Neuropathy symptoms include:
- Tingling in the legs, feet, arms, and hands.
- Feelings of pins and needles.
- Falling down often.
- Numbness of arms and legs.
- Being clumsy
- Burning, stabbing, shooting pains.
- Unsteady walking.
- Muscle weakness, aches, or cramping.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Feeling dizzy.
- Trouble swallowing.
- Stomach problems.
- Breathing problems.
- Skin and nail infections.
How Alcoholic Neuropathy Affects the Body
It is fairly recent that science has begun to study this health issue in people with an AUD. So far, it isn’t well understood, but study is ongoing. As of now it is thought that about 60% of those with a chronic AUD have neuropathy.
The symptoms of alcoholic neuropathy start slowly and then build over time. The legs become weak, and this is sometimes called “alcohol leg.” This might be the first symptom noticed. But as the heavy drinking continues more and more organs are impacted. This is due to the toxic nature of alcohol to nerve tissue.
As the disease is allowed to progress, so will the nerve damage. If the problem is allowed to proceed and worsen there can be very serious health effects. This means it may become hard to perform daily tasks. You can also have chronic pain or become disabled.
What Vitamin Deficiencies Are Involved?
Someone with a chronic habit of heavy drinking will often have a poor diet. They may trade off eating meals for alcohol. When you replace meals with drinking over time it leads to malnutrition. One nutrient called thiamine is thought to be the one that is most depleted due to long-term drinking. This is just one of many diet-related problems that alcoholics have that lead to health problems.
Some of the vitamin deficiencies found include:
- Vitamin B6 and B12
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin A
When someone has these types of deficits it can harm health and prevent the nerves from their normal functions.
Treatment for Alcoholic Neuropathy
To help stop the nerve tissue damage the person must stop drinking. During the recovery from an AUD a focus on diet and health can be helpful. Nutrition will be a priority. Vitamin supplements will likely be part of the treatment plan. Also changing the diet so you get enough healthy foods on a daily basis.
There are other treatments involved as well. Pain meds can help relieve nerve pain. The doctor may order physical therapy sessions to help with muscle movement. Special footwear and stockings can be helpful, too. The goal is to improve the quality of life.
Symptoms of an AUD
Drinking habits can spin out of control without you even knowing it. What may start as a nightly drink or two after work can turn into chronic heavy drinking. Some people are just more prone to an AUD than others. They may have a long line of family members who drink. Or, maybe they have a mental health issue they are self-treating with alcohol.
Here are some signs and symptoms of an AUD:
- Drink more or longer than intended.
- Spend a lot of time drinking or recovering from drinking.
- Attempt to stop or cut back drinking but couldn’t.
- Have strong cravings for alcohol.
- Neglect daily obligations
- Keep drinking even in light of the bad things that happen.
- Prefer drinking to doing the things you once enjoyed.
- Engage in high-risk behaviors while drinking.
- Continue to drink even though it makes you feel sad, depressed, or causes blackouts.
- Drink more and more to get the initial desired effects.
- Have withdrawal symptoms when effects of alcohol wear off.
Getting Help for an Alcohol Use Disorder
There is a way out. You can quit drinking and get healthy again. To make this happen you will need a formal detox and rehab program. Breaking free of the AUD takes time and courage.
Treatment will help you make the needed changes to restore health and wellness. Rehab will include:
- Detox. The first step to getting the upper hand on an AUD is to complete a detox. The detox team will closely watch the symptoms during the detox process, as alcohol detox can sometimes be a problem. The team will provide the needed support to help reduce discomfort. This takes about one week.
- Therapy. After detox is over you start the treatment phase. You can opt for either outpatient treatment or inpatient treatment. Rehab programs last from 1-6 months. CBT is a proven therapy that helps to change the thoughts and actions that led to alcohol abuse.
- Group therapy. Meeting in small groups with a therapist creates peer support. These sessions help the group practice new coping skills, such as how to manage stress better. They also learn to improve family-related issues and communication skills.
The first step to taking control over the neuropathy is to stop drinking. Get the help you need and restore your health today.
Capo by the Sea Provides Treatment for AUD
Capo by the Sea is a premier rehab program in Southern CA. Capo by the Sea offers the most modern treatments for alcoholism. Our gorgeous seaside setting provides a tranquil place to regain health and wellness. Start your new life in sobriety at Capo by the Sea. Call us today for more detail about our treatment program at (888) 529-2114.