To Drink or Not to Drink: Peripheral Neuropathy and Alcohol

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People living with peripheral neuropathy cope with challenging symptoms on a daily basis. Searching for ways to improve their quality of life, people often want to know what they should avoid and what they can eat and drink. We’re here to give you more information about peripheral neuropathy and alcohol.

What is Peripheral Neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that develops as a result of damage to the peripheral nervous system. Simply put, peripheral neuropathy is a type of nerve disease or damage. The nerves in your body send messages to and from the brain to your organs, tissues and entire body. When nerves become damaged or don’t work properly, it’s hard for important messages to get to and from the brain. Over time, peripheral neuropathy symptoms may develop.

What are the Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy symptoms range from mild to severe. Commonly, people living with peripheral neuropathy have symptoms including: numbness or tingling, pricking sensations and muscle weakness. In addition, some areas of the body may become extra sensitive to touch.

Serious peripheral neuropathy symptoms may include burning pain (especially at night), muscle wasting, paralysis, organ or gland dysfunction, sweating and more.

Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy may occur over days, weeks or even years, and they could be acute or chronic. Peripheral neuropathy affects everyone differently. Some people may experience periods of mild or few symptoms followed by a relapse of more severe symptoms. Others, may experience a chronic worsening over time.

Peripheral Neuropathy and Alcohol

Eating a balanced diet, seeing your doctor regularly and taking your medications exactly as prescribed by your doctor are all important steps you can take to stay healthy. Part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is understanding how certain foods and drinks may affect you. For example, combining certain foods and drinks with your medications may cause unwanted side effects. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain these types of interactions.

Many doctors recommend that their patients with peripheral neuropathy limit or avoid alcohol. Alcohol may cause your peripheral neuropathy symptoms to increase or be more noticeable. In addition, certain medications interact poorly with alcohol.

However, there are non-alcoholic alternatives to alcoholic beverages. For example, you can enjoy a glass of non-alcoholic wine or beer, and you can also have sparkling grape juice or sparkling apple cider.

Peripheral Neuropathy Treatment Options

You and your doctor will work together to develop the best treatment plan for you. If you notice a change or worsening in your peripheral neuropathy symptoms, it’s important to call your doctor. As peripheral neuropathy progresses, your doctor may need to modify your treatment plan.

Your peripheral neuropathy treatment plan may include medications, such as anti-seizure medicines, antidepressants, topical creams, supplements, other procedures and alternative treatments. For example, your doctor may recommend physical therapy to help you regain muscle strength and flexibility.

In addition, your doctor may recommend you see a registered dietician to make sure your body is receiving the nutrients it needs. Improving your quality of life with peripheral neuropathy might be challenging, but with your dedicated medical team, you’ll have the support you need to succeed.

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