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Neurologic Complications of Alcoholism

Noble, James M. MD; Weimer, Louis H. MD, FAAN

CONTINUUM: Lifelong Learning in Neurology:
doi: 10.1212/01.CON.0000450970.99322.84
Review Articles
Abstract

Purpose of Review:: This review serves as an overview of neurologic conditions associated with alcohol abuse or withdrawal, including epidemiology, clinical symptoms, diagnostic approach, and treatment.

Recent Findings:: Frequent alcohol abuse and frank alcoholism are very common among adults in the United States. Although rates decline with each decade, as many as 10% of the elderly drink excessively. Given the ubiquitous nature of alcoholism in society, its complications have been clinically recognized for generations, with recent advances focusing on improved understanding of ethanol’s biochemical targets and the pathophysiology of its complications.

Summary:: The chronic effects of alcohol abuse are myriad and include neurologic complications through both direct and indirect effects on the central and peripheral nervous systems. These disorders include several encephalopathic states related to alcohol intoxication, withdrawal, and related nutritional deficiencies; acute and chronic toxic and nutritional peripheral neuropathies; and myopathy. Although prevention of alcoholism and its neurologic complications is the optimal strategy, this article reviews the specific treatment algorithms for alcohol withdrawal and its related nutritional deficiency states.

Author Information

Address correspondence to Dr James M. Noble, The Neurological Institute of New York, Columbia University Medical Center, 710 W 168th St, New York, NY 10032, jn2054@columbia.edu.

Relationship Disclosure: Dr Noble’s institution receives grants from the National Institutes of Aging and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Dr Weimer reports no disclosure.

Unlabeled Use of Products/Investigational Use Disclosure: Drs Noble and Weimer report no disclosures.

© 2014 American Academy of Neurology