Alcoholic Polyneuropathy - Prognosis


It is difficult to assess the prognosis of a patient because it is hard to convince chronic alcoholics to abstain from drinking alcohol completely. It has been shown that a good prognosis may be given for mild neuropathy if the alcoholic has abstained from drinking for 3-5 years. During the early stages of the disease the damage appears to be reversible when people are given adequate amounts of vitamins, such as thiamine. If the polyneuropathy is mild, the individual will normally experience a significant improvement in the symptoms they experience and may be completely eliminated within weeks to months after proper nutrition has been maintained. When those people diagnosed with alcohol polyneuropathy experience a recovery it is presumed to be a result of regeneration and collateral sprouting of the damaged axons.

As the disease progresses, the damage may become permanent. In severe cases of thiamine deficiency, a few of the positive symptoms (including neuropathic pain) may persist indefinitely. Even after the restoration of a balanced nutritional intake, those patients with severe or chronic polyneuropathy may experience lifelong residual symptoms. Alcoholic polyneuropathy is not life threatening but may significantly affect one's quality of life. Effects of the disease range from mild discomfort to severe disability.

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