Here’s something you may not know — too much alcohol can lead to or exacerbate neuropathy. Makes you reconsider that drink, doesn’t it?
If you’ve ever wondered “Does alcohol affect peripheral neuropathy?”, the answer is yes. Learn more about the role that alcohol plays in neuropathy below and how you can protect yourself from the dangers of too much alcohol.
What is neuropathy?
Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage caused by fluctuations in blood glucose levels over time. Alcoholic neuropathy is nerve damage caused by overindulging in alcoholic drinks.
No matter what type of neuropathy you have, your condition can be exacerbated by drinking too much. Alcohol can damage nerves and blood cells, which, in turn, can lead to neuropathy and make neuropathy symptoms worse.
But how does alcohol cause peripheral neuropathy? First and foremost, long-term excessive alcohol use can damage your nerves and nervous system, along with other organs. This can lead to neuropathy.
Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol can also cause vitamin deficiencies, which means your nerves aren’t getting the nutrients they need to function properly. And when your nerves aren’t getting nutrients, it’s only a matter of time before they become damaged or even die.
Finally, alcohol may raise your blood sugar levels, further damaging your nerves and making your neuropathy worse.
What neuropathy looks like?
Some of the most common symptoms associated with neuropathy include:
- Tingling/burning sensations
- Foot problems
- Muscle weakness and wasting
- Incontinence and bowel issues
- Sexual dysfunction
- And more
Even if alcohol isn’t the main cause of your neuropathy, it can still aggravate your symptoms.
Fortunately, some alcoholic neuropathy cases — especially those cases which haven’t progressed very far — can be treated by simply not drinking. However, if neuropathy has been allowed to go untreated for a long time, permanent nerve damage is almost always the result.
Alcohol and neuropathy: Treatment options to try
If your neuropathy has been caused or exacerbated by alcohol, the best thing you can do is to stop drinking. It may take time to adequately eliminate alcohol from your diet, but once you do so, you and your healthcare provider can better treat your neuropathy.
In addition to eliminating alcohol, your doctor may also recommend:
- Vitamin supplements to address deficiencies
- Over-the-counter or prescription medications to help combat neuropathic pain
- Different types of therapies (e.g., massage, physical, acupuncture, etc.)
- Pain management aides such as special shoes, safety gear, or diabetic socks
- Outside assistance (such as therapy) if you can't stop drinking on your own
How much alcohol causes peripheral neuropathy?
There is no magic number or hard line separating too much alcohol from a safe amount for consumption. Everyone interacts with alcohol differently. Some people may develop neuropathy quickly, while others can go for years of heavy drinking without any neuropathy symptoms. However, studies have shown that some people, especially women, are more at risk for developing alcoholic neuropathy.
Why does alcohol cause neuropathy?
Alcohol can make it more difficult for your body to obtain the nutrients that help it to function. Thus, your nerves are less likely to receive the nutrients they need and can become damaged or even die.
Too much alcohol can also damage your organs, namely your kidney, liver, and stomach. When your organs can’t function properly, toxins can build up in your body and further harm your nerves.
Does alcohol make peripheral neuropathy worse?
Yes, alcohol can exacerbate peripheral neuropathy. Your nerve cells can sustain direct damage from too much alcohol. Too much alcohol can also lead to nutritional deficiencies that negatively impact neuropathy. For example, many alcoholics are deficient in B vitamins, which play an important role in nerve health and repair.
Can alcoholic peripheral neuropathy be reversed?
Most people will not be able to reverse the effects of neuropathy. Once damage occurs, it is often permanent. However, the sooner you begin treating your neuropathy, the better. If you catch alcoholic peripheral neuropathy early enough, you may be able to reverse it by giving up alcohol.
Can I drink alcohol if I have neuropathy?
You can, though it will likely make your neuropathy worse. We recommend limiting your alcohol intake to ensure that you can enjoy the highest quality of life possible.
Neuropathy pain, meet Viasox: The world’s finest fancy diabetic socks
No matter the cause of your neuropathy, getting the right treatment is important. In addition to any doctor-prescribed therapies, medications, or surgeries, you should also invest time in helpful and non-invasive pain management treatment options. One popular example? Diabetic compression socks or non-binding socks.
Neuropathy is particularly bad on the feet and legs, which is why our socks can be so beneficial. Viasox socks are created with your safety and comfort in mind and are specially designed to offer superior protection for your feet.
Shop our entire collection online today and discover fun diabetic socks in every color, pattern, and size you can imagine. Need help locating a product or completing an order? We’d be happy to assist!