What is Neuritis?
Neuritis is a general term, which refers to diseases that consist of inflammation of a single nerve or a group of nerves. Symptoms of neuritis consist of pain, weakness, sensation changes, numbness, muscle wasting or paralysis. Neuritis together with other diseases that damage the peripheral nerves are collectively termed as neuropathies.
What is Chronic Neuritis?
Persistent neuritis or recurrence of bouts of Neuritis is termed as Chronic Neuritis.
Types of Neuritis
Optic neuritis and peripheral neuritis are the commonest types of neuritis. Other less common type of neuritis are: Brachial neuritis, intercostal neuritis, polyneuritis multiplex, lumbosacral neuritis, ulnar neuritis, vestibular neuritis, occipital neuritis, arsenic neuritis, cranial neuritis, granulomatous neuritis of leprosy and sensory motor polyneuropathy.
Causes of Neuritis & Chronic Neuritis
In majority of the patients, the exact cause of neuritis is not clear. Older individuals and women are more susceptible to develop neuritis. Deficiency of certain nutrients and diseases, which affect the blood supply to the nerves are important factors that contribute to development of neuritis as well as chronic neuritis. Other causes of neuritis and chronic neuritis consist of:
Any type of injury to the nerve results in its inflammation and leads to development of symptoms of neuritis. There are different types of injuries, which are localized and may involve a single nerve. The various means of injury to nerves include:
Physical Injury: Direct injury (penetrating injury) to the nerve and nerve compression causes neuritis. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a characteristic example of nerve compression, which further leads to nerve injury. Patient experiences pain and numbness of the index finger and thumb. Wearing high-heeled footwear also causes compression of nerves in the toes resulting in numbness and pain of the affected toes. This is another example of a compression injury.
Radiation Injury: Radiation therapy used in treatment of cancer can also cause injury to the nerves leading to development of neuritis. Brachial neuritis occurs as a complication of radiation therapy to the upper chest region.
Chemical Injury: Injury to structures around the nerves causes release of toxic substances, which cause injury to the nerve. This is known as chemical neuritis. Certain medicines, which are administered via injection, can also cause chemical injury to the nerves, which are situated near the site of injection. Neuritis can also occur as a side effect of some medicines used in chemotherapy. Metallic poisoning, such as arsenic poisoning can also cause chemical neuritis.
There are different types of infections, which can cause neuritis and ultimately result in chronic neuritis and these infections are: Lyme disease, leprosy, cat scratch disease, syphilis, diphtheria, herpes simplex infection and chickenpox.
Different types of nutritional deficiencies can lead to Neuritis and Chronic Neuritis. Vitamin B deficiencies, such as vitamin B1, B2, B6 and B12 commonly cause peripheral neuritis.
There are many conditions, which can make a person more vulnerable to neuritis and they include: Hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus, porphyria, beriberi, autoimmune diseases (multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, sarcoidosis), chronic acidosis, pernicious anemia and some types of cancers. Autoimmune diseases more commonly are associated with optic neuritis.
Toxicity occurring as a result of certain environmental pollutants, drugs, metals and other chemicals can also cause neuritis and chronic neuritis. Insecticides, lead, mercury, methanol, arsenic, chronic alcoholism and ethambutol are some of the contributing substances to neuritis and chronic neuritis. Long-term use of cholesterol lowering medicines (statins), arthritis and blood pressure can also contribute towards causing neuritis.
Some of the types of neuritis are inherited and these include: Amyloid polyneuropathy, Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.
Symptoms of Neuritis & Chronic Neuritis
Symptoms of neuritis and chronic neuritis depend on the group of nerves or the particular nerve, which is affected. Some of the common symptoms of neuritis localized to the affected area consist of:
- Weakness of muscles.
- Pain, which can be of pricking or stabbing quality.
- Tingling or burning sensation (paresthesia).
- Symptoms of severe neuritis consist of loss of sensation, numbness, redness of skin, swelling, paralysis, wasting of muscles and loss of muscle reflexes.
- Symptoms of optic neuritis consist of visual disturbances, such as blurred vision or distorted or vision and even loss of vision. There may be pain in the eye and loss of color vision. A few patients can have trouble adjusting to darkness or bright light.
Treatment for Neuritis & Chronic Neuritis
- The treatment and cure for neuritis and chronic neuritis differs and depends on the cause.
- Treatment can be done for specific causes of peripheral neuritis and optic neuritis. However, in some cases neuritis cannot be cured. For example, if the cause of neuritis in a patient is acidosis from stress and the patient continues to be stressed or if the stress is not relieved, then neuritis also persists leading to chronic neuritis.
- If the cause of neuritis is simple such as vitamin deficiency, then it is easily curable by using vitamins.
- Regular intake of vitamin B also helps in treating neuritis.
- Painkillers can give some relief; however, they do not provide a permanent cure for neuritis. Prolonged use of painkillers increases the risk of heart and kidney disease.
- Dietary changes can also help in curing neuritis. Foods such as soybean carrots, sour milk and coconut can help with neuritis and chronic neuritis. Patient should follow a whole grain diet, brown rice, whole wheat, fresh milk, raw seeds, oats, raw cottage cheese and sprouted beans.
- A juice cleanse done for a week consisting of juices from carrot, apple, pineapple, beet and citrus fruits after which following a diet consisting of generous amount of fruits and vegetables also helps in preventing as well as eliminating neuritis.