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General Causes of Neuropathy

Neuropathy can either be congenital or acquired, and one of the most inherited Neuropathy is the Neurological disorder Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease which affects 1 out of 2500 people in the US. There's also the tendency of not being able to determine the exact cause of the acquired Neuropathy by doctors and this is known as an Idiopathic Neuropathy. There are many causes of Neuropathy some of which include Physical trauma, Systemic diseases, Infectious diseases, autoimmune disorders to mention but a few.

It's pertinent to note that a systemic disease is one which affects all the various systems of the body and the most common systemic problem that causes neuropathy is Diabetes Mellitus a condition where there are abnormally high blood glucose levels that causes nerve damage. The symptoms often seen in patients with diabetes mellitus are sometimes regarded as Diabetic Neuropathy, especially in late or complicated stages of diabetes mellitus. The risk of having diabetes mellitus increases with age, overweight individuals and in people who are suffering from hypertension. In, severe cases when patients have issues controlling their diabetes, diabetes mellitus can be complicated with neuropathy.

Conditions that can cause neuropathy include:

1. Diabetes

Diabetes is the condition most commonly associated with neuropathy. The typical signs of peripheral neuropathy often seen in patients with diabetes are usually referred to as diabetic neuropathy. The risk of having diabetic neuropathy increases with duration of diabetes and age. Neuropathy is commonly associated with people who have had a long history of diabetes and is widely more complicated in people who have high blood lipid levels (hyperlipidemia), those with difficulties in controlling diabetes (uncontrolled diabetes mellitus), those who are overweight or obese and those with high blood pressure (hypertension).

2. Toxins

Exposure to heavy metals, including lead, mercury, gold compounds, arsenic, thallium, nitrous oxide, organophosphate pesticides, etc. can lead to the manifestation of the signs and symptoms of neuropathy.

3. Drugs and Medications

Some medicines can cause nerve damage. Such medicines include but are not limited to anticancer medications (cytostatic drugs) like vincristine, anticonvulsants like phenytoin, antivirals like lamuvidine, and antibiotics like metronidazole (Flagyl) and isoniazid (Nydrazid, Laniazid).

4. Kidney disorders

Renal diseases allow high levels of nerve-damaging toxic substances which circulate in the blood to remain in the body since they kidneys are not 100% functional in performing their excretory functions. A significant concentration of waste products in the blood due to kidney failure can cause Neuropathy.

5. Vitamin deficiencies

These can also cause Nerve damage. Deficiencies in vitamins E, B1 (thiamine), B12, B6 (pyridoxine) and niacin can cause Neuropathy.

6. Tumors

Malignant or benign tumors of the nerves or adjacent structures can cause neuropathy due to pressure on the nerves or may harm the nerves directly, by invading the nerves.

7. Alcoholic Neuropathy

Heavy drinking is often related to peripheral neuropathy. Although the exact causes for the nerve damage are uncertain, it possibly arises from a combination of injury to the nerves by alcohol itself along with the poor diet and related vitamin deficiencies that are common in alcoholics.

8. Genetic or Inherited Disorders

Inherited or genetic disorders can upset the nerves and are the causes of different cases of neuropathy. Examples include Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and Friedreich's ataxia.

9. Amyloidosis

Amyloidosis is a situation in which irregular protein fibers are deposited in organs and tissues. The deposition of these proteins can cause different degrees of organ damage and may lead to neuropathy.

10. Post-herpetic Neuralgia

This is a complication of Shingles (varicella-zoster virus infection) which is a form of Neuropathy.

11. Autoimmune Neuropathy

Autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Guillain-Barre syndrome can lead to Neuropathy.

12. Infections

Many infections can cause Neuropathy by affecting the nerve tissues directly or indirectly, and they include HIV, Shingles, Lyme diseases, Leprosy, Diphtheria, and Epstein-Barr virus.

13. Severe inflammation

Inflammation can damage protective tissues around nerves making them more prone to compression.

14. Blood diseases

These can cause harm to nerve tissues when there is a decrease in the oxygen supply, and hypoxia occurs.

15. Trauma

During car accidents or any other traumatic injuries, nerves can become compressed or cut, resulting in Neuropathy. Nerves can be overstretched even to the extent of detaching them from the spinal cord. Most causes of these injuries are heavy falls, motor vehicle accidents, and sports injuries.

16. Chemical Imbalances Due To Liver Diseases

One of the primary function of the liver is detoxification, but if there is a problem with the liver., there will be impairment in its detoxification and metabolic functions. This impairment can cause Neuropathy.

17. Uremia

Uremia (a high level of excess products in the blood as a result of kidney failure) can lead to neuropathy.

18. Idiopathic

This is the neuropathy with no known cause or nature. Idiopathic is a term used in medical field to indicate the fact that the cause is unknown.

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