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Does drinking too much alcohol cause nerve damage (neuropathy)?

ANSWER

Heavy drinking can rob your body of essential nutrients, especially B vitamins like folate and B12. It can damage nerve tissue, too. That can cause neuropathy, especially in your arms and legs. If you or others think that you might be drinking too much, talk with your doctor. It’s a confidential way to find out about resources that can help.

SOURCES:

Cleveland Clinic: “Neuropathy.”

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: “Peripheral Neuropathy Fact Sheet.”

The Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy: “Alcohol,” “Chemo-Induced PN,” “Nutrition and Vitamin Deficiency,” “Idiopathic Neuropathy.”

Fiona Gupta, MD, neurologist, Hackensack University Medical Center, New Jersey.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Diabetic Neuropathies: The Nerve Damage of Diabetes.”

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson on April 22, 2018

SOURCES:

Cleveland Clinic: “Neuropathy.”

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: “Peripheral Neuropathy Fact Sheet.”

The Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy: “Alcohol,” “Chemo-Induced PN,” “Nutrition and Vitamin Deficiency,” “Idiopathic Neuropathy.”

Fiona Gupta, MD, neurologist, Hackensack University Medical Center, New Jersey.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Diabetic Neuropathies: The Nerve Damage of Diabetes.”

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson on April 22, 2018

NEXT QUESTION:

How do some medications lead to neuropathy, and how can I manage it?

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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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