What is peripheral neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy is a disorder of the peripheral nerves. These nerves send messages between the central nervous system, the brain, the spinal cord, and the rest of the body.
It describes many conditions caused by damage to the peripheral nervous system. The condition can affect a single nerve or range of nerves and a variety of locations in different ways.
How bad is my peripheral neuropathy?
Mild: It is asymptomatic; clinical or diagnostic observations only. Most of the time, it can be safely managed at home.
Moderate: It includes moderate symptoms; limiting instrumental activities of daily life (preparing meals, managing money, shopping, doing housework, and using a telephone). It can be managed at home but may require the attention of your medical team.
Severe: It involves severe symptoms; limiting self-care activities of daily life (eating, dressing, getting into or out of a bed or chair, taking a bath or shower, and using the toilet). It may be an emergency and require additional medical interventions or hospitalization in some cases.
How to manage mild peripheral neuropathy?
- Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein to keep nerves healthy.
- Protect against vitamin B-12 deficiency by eating meats, fish, eggs, low-fat dairy foods and fortified cereals. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, fortified cereals are a good source of vitamin B-12, Talk to your doctor about B-12 supplements.
- Exercise regularly. Try to get 30 minutes to one hour of exercise thrice a week.
- Avoid factors that may cause nerve damage (repetitive motions, cramped positions that put pressure on nerves, exposure to toxic chemicals, smoking and overindulging in alcohol).
- Manage medical conditions (diabetes, alcoholism or rheumatoid arthritis) that put you at risk.
How to manage moderate and severe peripheral neuropathy?
Seek medical care right away if you notice unusual tingling, weakness, or pain in your hands or feet. Proper diagnosis and treatment can help you control the symptoms and prevent further damage.
What causes peripheral neuropathy?
- Certain cancer treatments (Chemotherapy)
- HIV drugs
- B12 or folate vitamin deficiencies
- Chronic kidney disease: An imbalance of salts and chemicals can cause peripheral neuropathy.
- Injuries: Broken bones and tight plaster casts can put pressure directly on the nerves.
- Infections: Shingles, HIV infection, Lyme disease, and viral illnesses.
- Guillain-Barré syndrome (a specific type of peripheral neuropathy triggered by infection).
- Autoimmune disorders (rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus).
- Certain types of of cancer (lymphoma and multiple myeloma)
- Chronic liver disease
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