Alcoholic neuropathy: Overview, Causes

Alternate Names : Neuropathy – alcoholic, Alcoholic polyneuropathy

Definition

Alcoholic neuropathy is damage to the nerves that results from excessive drinking of alcohol.

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

The cause of alcoholic neuropathy is debated. It probably includes both a direct poisoning of the nerve by the alcohol, and the effect of poor nutrition associated with alcoholism.

In severe cases, the nerves that regulate internal body functions (autonomic nerves) may be involved.

Risks for alcoholic neuropathy include:

* Long-term, heavy alcohol use
* Alcoholism that is present for 10 years or more

Pictures & Images

Alcoholic neuropathy

Alcoholic neuropathy is a disorder involving decreased nerve function due to the damage caused by habitual alcohol abuse. The damage may affect the autonomic nerves (those that regulate internal body functions) and the nerves that control movement and sensation.

Motor nerves

Motor nerves

Motor nerves are the nerves responsible for all voluntary skeletal and somatic movement such as moving the leg or arm.

Autonomic Nerves

Autonomic Nerves

Autonomic nerves are concerned with muscular functions which are reflexive, such as breathing, heartbeats and peristalsis (rhythmic movements of the intestines).

Central nervous system and peripheral nervous system

Central nervous system and peripheral nervous system

The central nervous system is comprised of the brain and spinal cord. The peripheral nervous system includes all peripheral nerves.

Alcoholic neuropathy: Overview, Causes

Alcoholic neuropathy: Symptoms & Signs, Diagnosis & Tests

Alcoholic neuropathy: Treatment


Review Date : 6/24/2009
Reviewed By : David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Daniel B. Hoch, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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