Small fiber neuropathy is a condition wherein there’s damage to the peripheral nervous system, the part of your nervous system that is outside of the brain and spinal cord. The peripheral nervous system regulates the heart rate, assists the inhalation and exhalation, controls perspiration and helps with the digestive process. It is also the one that allows you to have sensations all over your body.
Also referred to at times as autonomic neuropathy, small fiber neuropathy is considered by health authorities as a form of autoimmune disease — a condition wherein the immune system cannot tell apart invading microorganisms from the body’s own healthy tissues. Basically, small fiber neuropathy happens when the body attacks and damages its own nerves.
Most of the time, small fiber neuropathy first shows up in one hand or foot. The condition’s development tends to be slow. The various symptoms worsen as small fiber neuropathy progresses.
Some of the most common symptoms include: pain and burning sensation in the affected extremities, loss of sensation in the hands and feet, inability to perspire, dryness of the eyes, difficulty breathing, dizziness, increased heart rate, problem with bowel and bladder control, increased heart rate and skin discoloration. Some individuals with small fiber neuropathy also experience what’s known as orthostatic or postural hypotension wherein the blood pressure suddenly drops upon standing up from a sitting or lying position.
The problem with small fiber neuropathy is it presents symptoms that are very similar to many other diseases or illnesses. It’s for this reason why the condition is often left undetected by health professionals, allowing it to progress over time.
What are the Causes of Small Fiber Neuropathy?
As mentioned earlier, experts believe that it is caused by the body’s very own immune system. However, it may also be brought about by certain health problems such as:
- Diabetes – Experts say that diabetes is the most common reason behind the development of small fiber neuropathy.
- HIV and AIDS – Both of these illnesses have something to do with the immune system attacking the body.
- Alcoholism – Drinking too much alcohol can have a negative impact on the peripheral nervous system.
- Certain medications – Chemicals in certain medications may cause all sorts of complications, including small fiber neuropathy.
How Can Small Fiber Neuropathy be Prevented?
Preventing small fiber neuropathy from wreaking havoc to your life is easier than trying to manage the various symptoms and complications it may cause once it is already around.
Luckily, keeping the condition at bay is as simple as doing your best from dodging its usual causative factors. For instance, minding what you put in your mouth can save you from having high sugar levels in the blood and gaining unwanted weight, both of which can cause diabetes. Having a healthy lifestyle and drinking alcohol in moderation can considerably lower your risk of having small fiber neuropathy.
Engaging in safe sex and avoiding drug abuse can help save you from acquiring HIV and developing AIDS. Because there are certain medications which may have a negative impact on the peripheral nervous system, it’s important to avoid self-medicating. Carefully following the doctor’s instructions when given prescription medications is very important.
How is Small Fiber Neuropathy Treated?
Dealing with the causative factors is an integral part of treating small fiber neuropathy. For instance, someone with diabetes and has developed the condition is likely to be recommended by a specialist to exercise regularly, maintain an ideal weight and carefully monitor blood sugar levels.
Because one of the major and chronic effects of small fiber neuropathy is pain, a doctor will prescribe pain relievers known to work very well for individuals with the condition. There are times when antidepressants are also administered to help an individual with small fiber neuropathy to cope with the pain more effectively.
What are Some Herbal Remedies for the Pain?
Pain relievers often prescribed by doctors tend to cause unfavorable side effects. Luckily, there are herbal solutions that have worked for many individuals afflicted with small fiber neuropathy. Some of the herbs that are known to be very good at managing pain without producing side effects include: cayenne pepper, ginkgo biloba, aloe vera, evening primrose, peppermint, cypress and arnica.
Certain medical preparations for small fiber neuropathy actually contain some of these herbs to make them effective in dealing with the pain brought about by the condition.