Alcoholic neuropathy is damage to the nerves that results from excessive drinking of alcohol.
The exact cause of alcoholic neuropathy is unknown. It likely includes both a direct poisoning of the nerve by the alcohol and the effect of poor nutrition associated with alcoholism. Up to half of long-term heavy alcohol users develop this condition.In severe cases, nerves that regulate internal body functions (autonomic nerves) may be involved.Risks of alcoholic neuropathy include:
- Long-term, heavy alcohol use
- Alcoholism that is present for 10 years or more
Symptoms of this condition include any of the following:
- Numbness in the arms and legs
- Abnormal sensations, such as "pins and needles"
- Painful sensations in the arms and legs
- Muscle problems, including weakness, cramps, aches, or spasms
- Heat intolerance, especially after exercise
- Erection problems (impotence)
- Problems urinating, incontinence (leaking urine), feeling of incomplete bladder emptying, difficulty beginning to urinate
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Nausea, vomiting
- Problems swallowing or talking
Changes in muscle strength or sensation usually occur on both sides of the body and are more common in the legs than in the arms. Symptoms usually develop gradually and become worse over time.