There are groups of people that are more likely to develop nerve impairments and experience symptoms of nerve damage like tingling, numbness or unstable gait that is often reported as dizziness.
Not all of them know their risk of running into nerve health problems. Lack of information about nerves, and confusing nerve health with brain function and memory, happen often and doesn’t help.
If you belong to one of these groups, contact your doctor and discuss with him your potential risk of developing nerve impairments.
These populations might have a higher probability for nerve impairments.
What makes these groups more at risk of nerve impairments and of the disease called peripheral neuropathy?
There are multiple conditions that expose them to develop nerve impairments and people that belong to these groups can be at risk for many reasons. Sometimes there can be just one cause but in the majority of cases there are several.
Let’s see why:
Diabetics and peripheral neuropathy
Maybe you didn’t know that the most common cause of peripheral neuropathy is diabetes, accounting for up to 50% of patients. One of the reasons for the higher risk to develop nerve impairments is linked to the fact that diabetes is often associated with high levels of blood sugar and this condition can lead to nerve damage. Also, in people with diabetes the level of oxidative stress is high and it can additionally affect the nerves. Other factors for higher risk for nerve impairments in diabetic patients can be smoking, hypertension and the duration of diabetes.
The ability to absorb vitamins declines with age. That might be one of the reasons why elderly people have more chances of B12, B6 and B1 vitamins deficiencies. As these vitamins are essential for the health of the nervous system, deficiency can lead to nerve impairments. There are studies that show that peripheral neuropathy is more frequent in aged populations, the reasons for this can be multiple and are still not fully understood.
Smokers and peripheral neuropathy
Are you a smoker? Be careful. Smoking narrows and hardens your arteries, reducing blood flow to your legs and feet and is also associated with a high risk of nerve damage.
Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol (alcohol abuse) negatively affects your health, including nerves, because alcohol can have a toxic effect on your nerve tissue. Additionally, its chronic abuse is often associated with malnutrition and nutrient deficiencies, including B12, B1 and B6. In fact, drinking too much can lower your neurotropic B vitamins levels. People with alcoholic neuropathy who stop drinking may alleviate their current symptoms and prevent further nerve deterioration.
People with B vitamins deficiencies
Special nutritional habits or malnutrition can lead to deficiencies in certain essential vitamins, like the neurotropic B vitamins, which play a very important role in keeping your nerves healthy and protected. For example, being on a vegetarian diet nowadays is a widespread lifestyle, making vegeterians at high risk for B12 vitamin deficiency. B12 vitamin deficiency in vegetarians has been reported to cause peripheral neuropathy.
Regardless of the causes, it is advisable for all groups to avoid nerve impairment risk factors, where possible.
Other populations at risk of nerve impairments
Sometimes symptoms of nerve impairments occur and although you visit doctors and do analysis, the cause may not be easily detected. It might be the case when there isn’t a specific one.
This condition is known as “idiopathic peripheral neuropathy”, where “idiopathic” means “of unknown cause”. Idiopathic peripheral neuropathy happens to occur in people over 60 years old; if it progresses, even slowly, it may become very disruptive to someone’s normal life.
Besides the main groups listed above, other conditions increase the risk for nerve impairment.
Let’s see some of them:
• Patients with renal impairment, failure or in dialysis;
• Medications which influence metabolism or absorption of nutrients like metformin, proton pump inhibitors, chemotherapeutics or HIV/AIDS treatments;
• Patients with gastrointestinal diseases like anorexia, diarrhea, inflammatory bowel diseases, H. pylori infections, after bariatric surgery;
• Physical injuries or trauma, such as motor vehicle accidents, falls or sports injuries. Trauma that can damage peripheral nerves;
• Malnutrition (people with limited access to food or unbalanced nutrition);
• Genetic causes (people that have a family member that suffers from neuropathy).
• Exposure to toxins and chemicals, e.g. arsenic;
ASC Ref No. M076P112017N
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