Familial amyloid polyneuropathy comes with plenty of symptoms that patients and caregivers must be aware of. Symptoms such as autonomic neuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, cardiac symptoms, and peripheral neuropathy all greatly impact the daily lives of polyneuropathy patients. Nutrition plays an important role in the prevention and management of these symptoms, especially the nerve pain associated with peripheral neuropathy.
What is peripheral neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy is the loss of nerve function on the outside of the body, mainly the arms, legs, feet, and hands. Early symptoms include numbness and a tingling sensation. As neuropathy is a progressive disease, patients with these symptoms are at risk for losing feeling in their extremities.
How do the symptoms affect daily life?
My mother-in-law experienced many of the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. The nerve endings in her arms, feet, and legs were causing her great discomfort. These symptoms made venturing out into public extremely difficult for her. The sensation she was feeling in her legs made it difficult for her to walk long distances. She required an electric wheelchair for mobility.
When out running errands, we always chose a place that was not too crowded. One inadvertent brush against her foot by a passerby, and my mother-in-law would experience immense pain. Even exchanging hugs required significant care. We had to make sure that we were not touching an affected area too hard when making contact.
How diet may help alleviate the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy
According to the Mayo Clinic, vitamin deficiencies and diabetes are two of the main causes of peripheral neuropathy. Caregivers may help their patients alleviate the symptoms by ensuring they are receiving proper nutrition. Following are some ways caregivers can help with nutrition.
Monitor the patient’s blood sugar
Caregivers may assist patients in avoiding diabetic peripheral neuropathy by monitoring their blood sugar levels. This can be achieved by limiting the intake of sweets, carbs, and starchy foods. Caregivers may substitute these foods with a portion-controlled diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts, dairy, and lean meats, such as fish and poultry.
Increase the patient’s intake of vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 deficiency is a common cause of neuropathy. Caregivers must ensure that patients incorporate foods high in B12 into their diets. These foods include dairy, meat, fish, poultry, and eggs.
Regulate the amount of vitamin B6 the patient receives
Elevated levels of vitamin B6 may cause neuropathy. Doses over 200 mg of B6 may cause neuropathy, fatigue, and breathing issues, so caregivers must be sure to monitor how much their patients receive.
Avoid foods high in mercury and other toxins
Foods high in toxins such as mercury may cause nerve issues for neuropathy patients. By reducing the amount of mercury-laden seafood their patients eat, the caregiver can reduce the risk of peripheral neuropathy from mercury exposure.
Diet and nutrition play key parts in mitigating the external symptoms of polyneuropathy. By ensuring the patient is eating a balanced diet, caregivers can help reduce the nerve pain associated with peripheral neuropathy. For my mother-in-law, this involved reducing her sugar consumption. We are still in the process of monitoring her starch intake and trying to wean her off diet soft drinks. Still, we saw a significant, gradual improvement in her extremities as we made small changes to her diet.
Note: FAP News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of FAP News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to familial amyloid polyneuropathy.