Swaroopa. Maralla and D. Bharathi
Division of Zoology, Department of Sericulture, Sri Padmavathi Mahila University, Tirupati-517502, Andhra Pradesh, India
Multiple organ systems get damaged due to chronic alcohol consumption resulting in conditions such as Wernicke encephalopathy, Korsakoff psychosis, and cerebellar ataxia in brain; cardiac myopathy and autonomic neuropathy in heart; and cirrhosis in pancreas, gallbladder, and liver as well as damage to peripheral nerves. Patients suffering with end-organ damage to multiple systems usually die with cardiac and liver failure. Chronic alcohol consumption is a common cause of peripheral neuropathy. Alcoholic neuropathy, categorized as primary axonal neuropathy is marked by wallerian degeneration of the axons and reduced myelination of nerve fibers. Combined with the direct toxicity of alcohol, nutritional deficiency also seems to play a significant role in the pathophysiology of alcoholic neuropathy resulting in synergistic negative effects. In the development of conditions like cardiac autonomic neuropathy (CAN) and various cranial neuropathies involving optic neuropathy and vagus neuropathy the association of alcohol cannot be ignored. Alcoholic neuropathy may result, in part, of increased free radical damage to nerves due to alcohol initiated oxidative stress. It is also suggested that alcohol-induced neuropathy may be in part caused by molecular and signal transduction abnormalities involving insulin and insulin like growth factor. The onset of alcoholic neuropathy in most of the cases is illusive, extended and sustained. In persons with a history of chronic consumption of large volumes of alcohol, the development of peripheral neuropathy is a major threat resulting in the formation of primary axonal sensorimotor peripheral polyneuropathy. Symptoms of alcoholic neuropathy are initially visible in the distal lower extremities. Sensory symptoms viz., numbness, paresthesias, dysesthesias, allodynia, and loss of sense of vibration and position are generally noticeable prior to the manifestation of motor symptoms like weakness etc. Gabapentin or amitriptyline along with other Over-The-Counter pain relief medications, such as aspirin or acetaminophen can be successfully used in treating alcoholic neuropathy.
Keywords: Chronic alcohol consumption, Neuropathy, Damage, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment.