Q: I suffer from peripheral neuropathy that's not associated with alcoholic peripheral neuropathy. Can I still drink?—Jason, Conn.
A: The peripheral nerve system is the part of the nerve network in charge of involuntary muscle control, responsible for innumerable critical life functions from digestion to cardiac muscle performance. Peripheral neuropathy is a condition in which this nerve system has been compromised in some way, and it can affect sufferers in many different ways and in varying degrees of severity.
UCLA's Dr. Quynh Pham, who specializes in musculoskeletal medicine and pain management, says that some sufferers of peripheral neuropathy can drink in moderation. "While peripheral neuropathy can be caused by the prolonged intake of alcohol, the exact role of alcohol in the development of this condition [remains unconfirmed]," she says. "But overall, if a person is healthy (not nutritionally deficient), occasional alcohol intake should not worsen the condition."
Patients with neuropathy can live long and healthy lives by maintaining a healthy diet and avoiding foods or drinks that could interfere with their medications. However, anyone who suffers from nerve conditions should consult with their doctors before considering including wine in a healthy lifestyle, not only in regard to whether or not alcohol could worsen their condition, but also on how alcohol may impact their drug regimen.