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Diagnosing Alcoholic Neuropathy

Updated on December 18, 2013

Diagnosing Alcoholic Neuropathy

Alcoholic neuropathy is often misdiagnosed as other ailments since its symptoms are usually neglected. Patients with alcoholic neuropathy may not be fully aware of the numbness that their body feels due to the level of alcohol in their system. Furthermore, patients may associate some of the symptoms of alcoholic neuropathy like muscle weakness and difficulty walking to aging.

There are two suppositions when it comes to alcohol neuropathy’s causation: one, it is due to alcohol poisoning of the nerves and second, due to alcoholics’ poor diet and nutrition. Up to half of long-term alcoholics are usually inflicted with this condition.

To help diagnose alcoholic neuropathy, medical professionals look into the family history of the patient. The symptoms, neurological examinations and physical examination results are as well checked. A neurological exam is needed since it evaluates the patient’s nervous system, movement, sensations, nerves, synchronization, hearing, vision and equilibrium.

Provided below are some of the tests that neuropathy patients are asked to take:

Tests for Alcoholic Neuropathy

Electrodiagnostic Testing
This is done to know the amount of electrical activity of the nerves and muscles. By doing this test, the specialist would know if there have been damaged nerves, the reason for the damage and if the treatments for the damaged nerves are working.

This is done to measure the muscles’ electrical activity. It helps in detecting if there are blockage or if the stimulation of the nerves has slowed down. It can also explain why a muscle weakens.

Nerve Biopsy
This type of test requires a specialist since a piece of the nerve is removed from the wrist or ankle to be examined.

Small Bowel Series and Upper GI
This test is done in the radiology department of the hospital. In this test, you would be taking X-ray examinations in the stomach, esophagus and small intestines. By undergoing small bowel series and upper GI examinations, doctors can know the patient’s exact intestines and stomach problem.

Neuro Examination
Neuro examination is a test to examine the individual’s nervous system. This test could lessen long complications that may occur and it could also help with the initial cause of the condition.

It is done to check the esophagus lining. In this mode of test, a small camera is inserted in the throat down to the stomach and intestines.

Blood Tests
Blood tests help determine if there are vitamin deficiencies related to the use of alcohol. Nerve damages can as well be detected by a simple blood test.

Taking diagnostic tests to determine the exact cause of the condition can help your doctor find good treatment methods and medications for your specific needs. Once prognosis of alcohol neuropathy is done, treatment for the condition commences. Goals for the treatment include symptomatic relief, injury prevention, and maximization of ability to function unaided. Treatment should consist of multiple approaches including, but not limited to, dietary changes, lifestyle management, alternative therapies, and home remedies.

The prognosis for alcohol neuropathy looks promising provided that the condition is addressed as soon as possible before permanent nerve damage sets in. Likewise, continued alcohol consumption and/or failure to undergo proper diet will aggravate the condition that may lead to a very poor quality of life.

Symptoms of Alcoholic Neuropathy

Pain is a term that is used so commonly that people often fail to realize what it really means. Simply put, pain is a signal that goes out from the brain when there is something wrong going on within the body. It is similar to a warning signal that is transmitted to the brain and then registered accordingly. Since the term pain is used so commonly, some types of pain are often overlooked. A sharp and shooting pain sensation is although tough to bear, most people do not perceive it as detrimental because the sensation goes away as quickly as it arrived. However, those with a proper understanding of the body's workings know that sharp and shooting pain sensations are not to be overlooked. This is because, more often than not, the sensation is a signal for a much larger issue. Thus, a much larger issue can turn into chronic pain soon, which is often difficult to fight by an average human. Thus, below is a detailed overview of the three main types of body pain that should never be ignored or taken lightly.

Lower Back Pain
One of the most common types of pain that people face is the pain in the lower back region. The issue with lower back pain lies not only in its commonality, but also in the fact that most people suffering from this issue choose to ignore it. Ignorance here though is not bliss at all, as back pain can turn into a chronic issue if not taken care of initially. This is the reason why experts always advise people to take back pain seriously, even if it is not too intense at first.

Abdominal Pain
Consuming food that is not fresh or eating too much are all factors that contribute to abdominal pain. Sadly though, there are major differences between the pain that results from eating something stale and pain that occurs in the abdominal region for no reason at all. While the first issue can be treated easily, pain that hits without any reason is a major cause for concern. Lung issues, intestinal blockages, and bladder issues are all problems that can occur when abdominal pain is severe and left untreated.

Burning and Tingling Sensations
Sitting with legs crossed for too long almost surely results in burning and tingling sensations. These sensations are akin to electrical shocks and occur as a result of reduced blood circulation to the arms or feet. Although reduced blood circulation is cured quickly, when the sensations occur without any reason, it is a signal that something is wrong within the body. Burning and tingling sensations are all symptoms of nerve damage or neuropathy, a condition that can severely limit mobility. Worse still, neuropathy is not curable. Thus, immediate measures should be taken at the first hint of such sensations. For diabetes patients, nerve damage is even more common as almost 60% of all diabetes patients are likely to suffer from nerve damage during the course of their lives.


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      compaineil 9 months ago

      Very interesting.