HIV/AIDS and Peripheral Neuropathy – An Ever Changing Relationship

If you have HIV/AIDS, at some point in the progression of your disease you’ll probably develop peripheral nerve damage or peripheral neuropathy.

By most estimates, roughly one-third of people with HIV/AIDS experience peripheral neuropathy, especially in advanced cases.

While that may not be surprising, what you should also know is that some forms of peripheral nerve damage like Guillain-Barre Syndrome and Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP) may affect early onset patients.

Your doctor may even be able to tell how far your HIV/AIDS has progressed by diagnosing the type of peripheral neuropathy you’ve developed.  As your disease progresses, your peripheral neuropathy will as well.

Exactly What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?

 

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that develops when the peripheral nervous system is damaged by a condition like diabetes, cancer or HIV/AIDS.  When these nerves are damaged, they no longer communicate properly and all the bodily functions they govern are disrupted.

Depending upon which nerves are damaged and the functions they serve, you can develop serious or even life threatening symptoms.

Why Do AIDS Patients Develop Peripheral Neuropathy?

HIV/AIDS patients develop peripheral neuropathy for a number of reasons[1]:

•      The virus can cause neuropathy.

Viruses can attack nerve tissue and severely damage sensory nerves. If those nerves are damaged, you’re going to feel the pain, quickly.

The virus that causes HIV, in particular, can cause extensive damage to the peripheral nerves.  Often, the progression of the disease can actually be tracked according to the specific type of neuropathy the patient develops.  Painful polyneuropathy affecting the feet and hands can be one of first clinical signs of HIV infection.

•      Certain medications can cause peripheral neuropathy.

Peripheral neuropathy is a potential side effect of certain medications used to treat HIV/AIDS.  Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTI’s) or, in layman’s terms, the “d-drugs” (i.e., Didanosine, Videx, Zalcitabine, Hivid, Stavudine and Zerit) most often cause peripheral neuropathy.

Other drugs, such as those used to treat pneumocystis pneumonia, amoebic dysentery, Kaposi’s sarcoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, other cancers, wasting syndrome and severe mouth ulcers can all lead to peripheral neuropathy as well.

•      Opportunistic infections that HIV/AIDS patients are prone to develop are another cause of peripheral neuropathy.

The hepatitis C virus, Varicella zoster virus (shingles), syphilis and tuberculosis are all infections that can lead to problems with the peripheral nervous system.

How Do You Know If You Have Peripheral Neuropathy?

Most HIV/AIDS patients with peripheral neuropathy complain of[2]:

•     Burning

•     Stiffness

•     Prickly feeling in their extremities

•     Tingling

•     Numbness or loss of sensation in the toes and soles of the feet

•     Progressive weakness

•     Dizziness

•     Loss of bladder and bowel control

 

Why Should You Worry About Peripheral Neuropathy?

If your peripheral neuropathy affects the autonomic nervous system, you could develop

•     Blood pressure problems

•     Heart rate issues

•     Bladder or bowel control issues

•     Difficulty swallowing because your esophagus doesn’t function properly

•     Bloating

•     Heart burn

•     Inability to feel sensation in your hands and feet

Beyond being uncomfortable, any of these conditions can cause serious health issues; some can even be fatal.

Treatment Options for Peripheral Neuropathy

If you have HIV/AIDS and you think you’ve developed peripheral neuropathy, see a specialist immediately.  A good place to start is with your local NeuropathyDR® clinician for a treatment plan specifically designed for you.

You can help your neuropathy specialist treat you and help yourself, too, by:

•     Stop taking the drugs that cause peripheral neuropathy (but never discontinue drug therapy without supervision by your treating physician)

•     Start non-drug treatments to reduce pain like avoiding walking or standing for long periods, wearing looser shoes, and/or soaking your feet in ice water.

•     Make sure you’re eating properly.

•     Take safety precautions to compensate for any loss of sensation in your hands and feet, like testing your bath water with your elbow to make sure it’s not too hot or checking your shoes to make sure you don’t have a small rock or pebble in them before you put them on.

•     Ask about available pain medications if over the counter drugs aren’t helping.

Contact us today for information on the best course of treatment to deal with the pain of peripheral neuropathy caused by HIV/AIDS and taking steps to ensure that you don’t have permanent nerve damage.

For more information on coping with peripheral neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.com.

 

What You Need To Know About Hypoglycemia and Autonomic Neuropathy

 

If you have diabetes and a low blood glucose count, you have a serious problem.

That problem is hypoglycemia.

Hypoglycemia can occur in anyone with diabetes if they’re taking medication to lower their blood glucose.  If you have type 1 diabetes and you’re insulin dependent, you stand a good chance of developing hypoglycemia.

The symptoms can be mild and easy for you to recognize.  A quick fix is to load up on carbohydrates and go on your way; however, the symptoms can be severe enough to cause you to lose consciousness, possibly even diabetic coma and death.

If those prospects concern you, they should.  The really frightening thing is this –

You Might Not Even Know You Have A Problem

Most people expect hypoglycemic episodes to come with classic symptoms[1]:

∙           Tremor

∙           Sweating

∙           Heart palpitations

That doesn’t always happen.  If you’ve had type 1 diabetes for a long period of time and try to keep your blood glucose levels close to normal, you may not even realize you have a problem.

Here’s why:

If you have type 1 diabetes, when your blood glucose levels fall, your insulin levels don’t decrease and your glucagon levels don’t increase.  They just reflect your body’s absorption of insulin.  When that happens, your body loses its first two lines of defense against the imbalance in your system.  Your body’s normal response is impaired.

What Causes the Impairment[2]?

Several things –

∙           Your brain may have become used to hypoglycemia because it’s been dealing with it for awhile. If you’ve had frequent episodes, the system in your body that’s responsible for transporting adrenaline to where it’s needed no longer senses a great need.  It just doesn’t respond.

∙           You may be using medications that mask your hypoglycemia symptoms and not even know it.  For example, if you take medications that are beta blockers, they’re designed to lessen the effects of adrenalin on your body.  You may not experience the tremors or heart palpitations that a normal person would during a hypoglycemic episode.  Beta blockers also block the liver from producing glucose so you’re giving your body a double whammy to deal with.

∙           You may have autonomic neuropathy.

What Is Autonomic Neuropathy?

Autonomic neuropathy in itself is not a disease.  It’s a type of peripheral neuropathy that affects the nerves that control involuntary body functions like heart rate, blood pressure, digestion and perspiration.  The nerves are damaged and don’t function properly leading to a breakdown of the signals between the brain and the parts of the body affected by the autonomic nervous system like the heart, blood vessels, digestive system and sweat glands.

The autonomic nervous system is the body’s back up plan for dealing with hypoglycemia.  When it malfunctions, it can lead to a world of problems.  Imagine your body being unable to regulate your heart rate or your blood pressure, an inability to properly digest your food, urinary problems, even being unable to sweat in order to cool your body down when you exercise.  In your case as a patient with diabetic hypoglycemia, your autonomic neuropathy is probably keeping your liver from producing insulin.

If you have diabetes, you need to take every precaution to maintain proper glucose levels.  Make sure you report any change in your condition to your doctor immediately.  If you’ve developed autonomic neuropathy as a result of your hypoglycemia, prompt treatment is your best bet to avoid serious and possibly deadly complications.  Early intervention with a NeuropathyDR® clinician is a good place to start.  If you already have symptoms, start treatment immediately.  If you take beta blockers or you’ve had frequent episodes of hypoglycemia in the past, see your doctor immediately and make sure you’re on a good preventative regimen.

For more information on coping with autonomic neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.com.

 

 

 

 

Acute Kidney Failure and Its Deadly Sidekick – Uremic Neuropathy

 

 

Doctor

This requires comprehensive medical care...

When you hear the words “acute kidney failure”, what do you think of?

Dialysis?

Hospitalization?

Symptoms too obvious to ignore?

Then you might be surprised to learn that acute kidney failure often doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms.  Many times it’s detected when the patient is already in the hospital for something else and evidence is found through tests.

When the symptoms finally do appear, they’re usually

∙           Swelling, especially in the legs and feet

∙           Cramps, muscle twitching or muscle weakness

∙           Little or no urine output

∙           Thirst and a dry mouth

∙           Dizziness

∙           Rapid heart rate

∙           Nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite

∙           Confusion

∙           Anxiety or restlessness

∙           Pain on one side of the back just below the rib cage but above the waist

∙           Fatigue

While none of these symptoms appear to be life threatening on their own, in combination they can be a sign of a deadly illness – acute kidney failure.  And the root cause of many of these symptoms is a serious complication of kidney failure – uremic neuropathy.  Uremic neuropathy or neuropathy associated with kidney failure is a very common complication of kidney failure.

If you have two or more of these symptoms, you need to see a doctor immediately.  A good place to start would be a physician well versed in diagnosing and treating nerve disease and damage, like your local NeuropathyDR® clinician.

What Is Uremic Neuropathy[1]?

Uremic neuropathy is a type of neuropathy caused by an increase in uremic toxins in the blood (the toxins urine usually removed from the body when the kidneys function properly.) The severity of your uremic neuropathy is directly linked to the severity of your kidney failure.  If your kidney failure is acute, your uremic neuropathy is pretty serious.

There are several conditions that cause kidney failure that will make it more likely that you’ll develop uremic neuropathy because they directly affect the central and/or peripheral nervous system.  The more common ones are:

∙           Diabetes

∙           Systemic lupus

∙           Hepatic (liver) failure

How Can Kidney Failure Lead to Neuropathy?

Neuropathy is one of the worst results of chronic kidney disease[2].  Acute kidney failure damages the kidneys.  When the kidneys are damaged fluids, waste products and toxins build up in the body.   Because many organs and bodily systems (particularly the nervous system) are directly affected by this build up of toxins, acute kidney failure leads to overall poor health and inflammation and nerve damage.

Once the nerves are damaged, they cease to function properly.  One complication leads to another and, in 20% to 50% of patients with acute kidney failure, you develop uremic neuropathy.

If you have one of the conditions we listed above that directly affect the nervous system, pay particular attention to your daily state of health.  If you develop any of the symptoms of kidney failure, contact your doctor or your local NeuropathyDR® clinician immediately for treatment.

Treatment and Prognosis

Uremic neuropathy is a serious condition that can arise from acute kidney failure.  Your best course of action is to catch your kidney issues before they become acute and you develop uremic neuropathy.

Your NeuropathyDR® clinician will work with you and your other physicians to treat your neuropathy and manage your underlying condition.  They do this through:

∙           Diet Planning and Nutritional Support

You need to give your body the nutrition it needs to heal.

A low protein diet is best for patients with kidney disease.  Talk to your NeuropathyDR® clinician about a diet plan that will work for you.

If you have diabetes, you need to follow a diet specifically designed for diabetics and     to control your blood sugar.

∙          Individually Designed Exercise Programs

If you experience dizziness, rapid heart rate, extreme thirst or issues with impaired sensation in your feet and legs, you have to be every careful with your exercise program.  Make sure that you don’t overexert yourself, take it slowly.  Your NeuropathyDR® clinician can design an exercise program specifically for you that will allow you to exercise but won’t push you beyond what your body is capable of.  And, even more importantly, they will continually monitor your progress and adjust your program as needed.

These changes in conjunction with medications and possibly dialysis will make it easier to live with acute kidney failure and uremic neuropathy. Early intervention with a NeuropathyDR® clinician is still the best policy if you have any of the underlying conditions that can cause uremic neuropathy.  If you already have symptoms, start treatment immediately.

For more information on coping with autonomic neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.com.

 

 

 

 


[1] www.kidney.org/professionals/kdoqi/guidelines_ckd/p6_comp_g11.htm

[2] http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/chronic-kidney-disease-topic-overview

One More Symptom of STD’s – Peripheral Neuropathy

If you’ve been diagnosed with one or more of these sexually transmitted diseases:

•     HIV/AIDS

•     Genital Herpes (or any one of the large number of herpes-simplex viruses)

•     Gonorrhea

•     Syphilis

•     Chlamydia

•     Hepatitis B and D

•     HPV (Human papillomavirus infection)

Yes, we said one or more.

Because of the way sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) are spread, it’s not uncommon to be infected with more than one STD through a single encounter.  For example, about half of the people who are infected in a single sexual encounter with Chlamydia are also infected with gonorrhea at the same time.[1]

If you’ve been diagnosed with an STD and you’re now experiencing

•     Extreme fatigue

•     Headaches

•     Painful, swollen joints

•     Swelling in your feet, legs or hands

•     Pleurisy

You may have yet another symptom from your STD to worry about – any of these diseases can cause peripheral neuropathy.

If it does, the pain, swelling or even loss of sensation won’t go away on its own.  And more than just causing pain, it can be deadly if the wrong nerves are affected.

How Does A Sexually Transmitted Disease Cause Peripheral Neuropathy?

Many of these STD’s are caused by viruses or bacteria.  Viruses and bacteria can attack nerve tissue and severely damage sensory nerves. If those nerves are damaged, you’re going to feel the pain, quickly.

The virus that causes HIV, in particular, can cause extensive damage to the peripheral nerves.  Often, the progression of the disease can actually be tracked according to the specific type of neuropathy the patient develops.  Painful polyneuropathy affecting the feet and hands can be one of first clinical signs of HIV infection.

Any of these viral or bacterial disorders can cause indirect nerve damage.  Those damaged nerves lead to peripheral neuropathy.

Exactly What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?

 

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that develops when the peripheral nervous system is damaged by a condition like diabetes, cancer or a sexually transmitted disease.  When these nerves are damaged, they no longer communicate properly and all the bodily functions they govern are disrupted.

Depending upon which nerves are damaged and the functions they serve, you can develop serious or even life threatening symptoms.

 

Why Should You Worry About Peripheral Neuropathy?

 

After all, you’ve already received a devastating diagnosis when you found out you had a sexually transmitted disease.  Aside from the physical discomfort, as a responsible partner you have to alter how you handle the most intimate aspect of your life.

But you should worry about peripheral neuropathy because you could develop serious problems.

If your peripheral neuropathy affects the autonomic nervous system, you could develop

•     Blood pressure problems

•     Heart rate issues

•     Bladder or bowel control issues

•     Difficulty swallowing because your esophagus doesn’t function properly

•     Bloating

•     Heart burn

•     Inability to feel sensation in your hands and feet

Beyond being uncomfortable, any of these conditions can cause serious health issues; some can even be fatal.

 

How Can You Protect Yourself?

 

If you suspect you have a sexually transmitted disease, get medical treatment immediately.  If you’re sexually active and have more than one partner, you might want to be tested even if you don’t have any of the common STD symptoms.  Often patients, especially women, are infected and have no symptoms.  Getting tested and finding out early on if you’re infected will make it less likely that you’ll develop peripheral neuropathy and nerve damage.

If you know you have a sexually transmitted disease and you’ve developed any of the peripheral neuropathy symptoms we mentioned earlier, one of the smartest things you can do for yourself to head off potential problems is to consult a specialist who treats neuropathy and will recognize problems quickly and act to resolve them.  A great place to start is with your local NeuropathyDR® clinician.  Your NeuropathyDR® specialist follows a very specific protocol specifically designed to minimize nerve damage from peripheral neuropathy.

Contact us today for information on the best course of treatment to make sure that once your sexually transmitted disease is cured or under control, you won’t carry the burden of nerve damage from peripheral neuropathy.

For more information on coping with peripheral neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.com.

 

Diabetic Neuropathy – A Good Reason to Keep an Eye on Your Feet

 

"It feels like pins and needles and PAIN! ?"

 

 

If you have diabetes and you notice any of these symptoms[1]:

–          Athlete’s Foot (or cracking of the skin between your toes)

–          Sores or wounds on your feet

–          Numbness or pain in your feet

–          Redness or swelling

–          Blackening or darkening of skin

–          Calluses

–          Ingrown toenails

–          Infection or wounds that don’t heal

–          Bunions

–          Hammer toes (the middle joint of the toes is permanently bent downward)

You need to contact your doctor, preferably a NeuropathyDR® clinician, immediately.  You could have the beginning signs of diabetic neuropathy in your feet.  And that can lead to serious medical problems – even amputation.

And you’re not alone.  According to the American Diabetes Association, about 20% of people with diabetes end up in the hospital with foot problems.  The reduced blood flow caused by both your diabetes and the resultant neuropathy make it hard for you to feel blisters or sores on your feet.  It can even be hard to tell that your socks or shoes don’t fit properly.

But there are steps you can take to take better care of your feet and reduce your risk of serious complications.

Tips for Caring for Your Feet[2]

•         Check your feet every day.  Look at your bare feet to make sure you don’t have any sores, blisters, or swelling.  If you can’t see the bottoms of your feet, use a mirror or ask someone else to check them for you.

•         Wash your feet every day and dry them completely to eliminate the possibility of fungus growth.

•         Use a good lotion on your feet to keep your skin smooth and prevent dry, cracked skin.  Don’t use lotion between your toes – it will keep the skin there too moist and that breeds bacteria.

•         Trim your toenails but not too short.  Cut them straight across and file the edges with a nail file to prevent ingrown toenails.

•         Always wear shoes and socks – even inside your house.  If you have neuropathy, it’s just too easy to step on something and injure your feet without even feeling it.

•         Wear comfortable shoes, preferable shoes designed for people with diabetic neuropathy in their feet.  Check your shoes before you put them on and make sure the lining is intact and smooth and that nothing is in your shoes.

•         Never put your feet in hot water.  Always check the temperature of your bath water with your elbow before stepping into it.

•         Never use hot water bottles or heating pads on your feet.  Your neuropathy makes it harder to sense extreme temperatures and you can burn your feet without even knowing you’ve done it.

•         When you’re sitting down, prop your feet up to keep the blood circulating.  Move your toes and ankles to keep the blood pumping.

•         Never cross your legs when sitting.

Prevention Is The Best Way To Avoid Diabetic Neuropathy in Your Feet

Other than taking really good care of your feet, the best thing you can do to avoid the serious medical issues that come with diabetic neuropathy is to manage your diabetes and prevent problems from occurring.   If you have diabetes, you need to:

•         Exercise regularly – talk to your NeuropathyDr® clinician about an exercise program that will work for you.

•         If you smoke, stop now…today.

•         Keep a close eye on your blood sugar.

•         Eat a healthy diet – again, talk to your NeuropathyDR® clinician about the best diet plan for your needs to manage your diabetes.

Above all else, pay attention to your body, especially your feet.  Assess your current medical situation and take note of any of the symptoms we described.  If you are experiencing any of these issues associated with diabetic neuropathy, contact your local NeuropathyDR® and take full advantage of their expertise in the treatment of peripheral neuropathies, including diabetic neuropathy.

For more information on coping with diabetic neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.com.