We probably don’t have to tell you that drinking too much alcohol is bad for you for a number of reasons. But here’s one you may not be aware of: nerve damage. According to some studies, as many as 50% of those who suffer with chronic, long-term alcoholism will eventually deal with some form of alcoholic neuropathy. Damaged nerves in the feet and hands lose their ability to communicate normally with the brain, leading to symptoms ranging from tingling and numbness, to muscle cramps and spasms, to urinary, bowel, or sexual dysfunction.
In small quantities, most people tolerate alcohol just fine. (We’re the first to admit we enjoy a nice glass of wine with dinner or with friends). However, alcohol becomes toxic when consumed beyond moderate quantities, and in more ways than just getting you “drunk” for a short period of time. Chronic alcohol abuse damages internal systems such as your liver or your peripheral nerves in part by directly poisoning them. It even alters your brain chemistry.
A related problem: those who struggle with alcohol abuse often also struggle with eating a healthy, balanced diet and may suffer from the effects of poor nutrition. As with any other part of your body, your nerves need both oxygen and vital nutrients to help them stay healthy and active—including niacin, thiamine, Vitamin B6 and B12, and Vitamin E. Alcohol abuse can alter the nutrient supply in your bloodstream. It’s also associated with a higher risk of not getting enough of these vitamins in the first place.
If you suffer from alcoholic neuropathy, the most important step is to get help for your drinking problem. Until you shut off the flow of poison to your nerves, the problem will only get worse. Quitting is never easy, we know, but the good news is that you don’t have to do it alone, and you won’t have to look far to find a community support group of people who understand what you’re going through and will walk with you.
As far as managing your symptoms, that’s where we come in. We’ll conduct a full examination, run any necessary tests, and help devise a plan to help you regain as much strength and sensation as possible while limiting pain and dysfunction, and slowing (or halting) progression of the disease. Give Dr. Danciger in Palm Desert a call at 760-568-0108 to find out what we can do for you, or request an appointment online.