How Much Alcohol Causes Neuropathy? Guide for Drinker

how much alcohol causes neuropathy

Not a surprising fact that alcohol is strongly related to the nervous system. But, how much alcohol causes neuropathy?

Many of us must be familiar with “drink responsibly” slogan. It is a yes, that responsible drinking could minimize the risks of health problem such as neuropathic disease. But still, people often wondering how much is the safe amount and how much alcohol causes neuropathy at a later stage.

In a little amount, it could give some benefits. A wine, for example, may reduce the risk of developing heart disease and controlling blood sugar.



What is the actual risk of getting a neuropathic disease by alcohol abuse?

First of all, a moderate amount of alcohol intake in a long-term, still gradually increase the risk of getting organs degeneration. The initial process of alcohol break-down is in the liver. The liver safely removes alcohol from the bloodstream before it causing problems.

However, if the amount of the alcohol intake is overwhelming the liver capability, then the detoxifying is negatively impacted. The following negative result from detoxifying incapability is an excessive amount of alcohol in the bloodstream. Thus, will trigger the potential nerve damage due to high alcohol levels in the nervous system.


The standard amount of how much daily alcohol intake based on the guidelines

It is actually not about the amount of how much alcohol causes neuropathy. Instead, repeatedly alcohol exposure overtime is the biggest risk. Because the risk of the alcohol intake is related to the amount and the consuming time, there are guidelines to define its standard.

According to NIAAA, the standard amount of how much alcoholic drink in the US as in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 are:

  • For men, no more than 4 drinks unit in a day and no more than 14 drinks unit in a week.
  • For women, no more than 3 drinks unit in a day and no more than 14 drinks unit in a week.

1 standard unit of drink is equal to 14 grams of pure alcohol found in different contains, such as:

  • 12 fl oz regular beer (5% alcohol)
  • 8-9 fl oz malt liquor (7% alcohol)
  • 5 fl oz wine (12-13% alcohol)
  • 1,5 fl oz distilled spirits (40% alcohol)

Below are the conditions when alcohol should be stopped completely if you are:

  • Have to drive or operate machinery
  • Taking a medication
  • Have a several alcohol-related diseases
  • Pregnant or trying to become pregnant


Don’t rely on the safety net about the alcohol daily intake guidelines

As published in National Center for Biotechnology Information, in 2003, they perform a clinical study of the alcoholic neuropathy. At least 64 patients were assessed and roughly 47 patients are consuming 100 g per day of alcohol in 10 years. It is approximately 7 standard units of drink in a day.

Based on the thiamine status, 64 patients were divided into two groups. The subgroup without thiamine deficiency consisted of 36 patients. The remain subgroup with thiamine deficiency consisted of 28 patients. Both of the groups shows uniformly slowly progressive, sensory dominant symptoms. In contrast, the ones with thiamine deficiency have painful symptoms as the main complaint.

Apart from that, deficiency of vitamins other than thiamine may also add to medical features of alcoholic neuropathy. Chronic alcoholism can change the absorption and utilization of vitamins B2, B6, and B12 that keeps the nerves from degeneration.


Conditions that could increase the risk factors for alcoholic neuropathy

The risk factors for alcoholic neuropathy may increase in a condition such as:

  • Excessive consumption of alcohol in a long-term
  • Inadequate nutrition in a regular diet
  • Bad habits such as smoking
  • Lack of physical activity


How much alcohol causes neuropathy in early warning signs?

For a non-alcoholic person who starts to drink, a change may occur in a year. Eventually, alcohol nerve damage early warning does not occur all at once. Instead, people will notice some signs that grow more strong and widespread as neuropathy gradually increase.

Problems typically first arise and initially notice unusual weakness, pain, numbness or tingling sensations in feet or hands. Symptoms in feet are more common. That is why the other name of alcoholic neuropathy is also called alcohol leg.

In additional cases, muscle spasms or muscle aches often occur after waking up from sleep after drinking alcohol.


When to see a doctor?

Not only stop on the early signs, a severe case of alcoholic neuropathy may also disturb the function of the body’s autonomic nerves. Advanced stages of the alcoholic neuropathy include:

  • Inability to control the bladder while doing urination
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Inability to speak or eat normally

See a doctor when the symptoms of damaged nerve followed up after drinking an alcohol.


The answer to how much alcohol causes neuropathy is still a debate. The standard of how much alcohol intake is different for everyone. It depends on the person’s medical history and their habits.

A guideline is only for a safety net for the maximum amount you can consume. Still, as the consumption is not stopped completely, the risk of getting an alcoholic neuropathy keeps escalating. Although alcoholic neuropathy is not a life-threatening disease, it may decrease the quality of life.