Polyneuritis is an inflammatory disease of the peripheral nervous system or cranial nerves. Several or all nerves can be affected to varying degrees. Discomfort and functional disturbances in damaged body zones are among the typical symptoms. The causes and associated therapeutic approaches are subject to a wide variety.


What is polyneuritis?

Polyneuritis describes an inflammatory process of nerves and is a generic term for several clinical pictures. Damage to nerve cords and nerve endings without inflammatory processes outside of the brainstem and spinal cord are included in polyneuropathy. The peripheral nerves run from the central nervous system throughout the body. See howsmb for Dubin-Johnson Syndrome Definition and Meaning.

Motor commands are given to the limbs and muscles via these lines. Passively received stimuli from sensory nerves transmit sensations to the brain, where they are then evaluated and interpreted. The autonomic nervous system, on the other hand, automatically controls the activity of organs such as the heartbeat and cannot be consciously controlled by humans.

In the case of mononeuritis, the focus is on the inflammation of a single nerve. If the damage occurs to several nerves that are not directly connected to each other, the term mononeuritis multiplex is used. Cranial polyneuritis is a disease of the nerves directly in the brainstem. A well-known representative of acute polyneuritis is the life-threatening Guillain-Barré syndrome and herpes zoster.


Bacterial and viral infections can cause polyneuritis. Lyme disease, diphtheria and HIV disease are among them. Autoimmune diseases also lay the foundation for an inflammatory attack on the nerve tissue. Your own defense cells attack the nerve cells and are therefore responsible for a wide range of symptoms.

Guillain-Barré syndrome has such a characteristic. Stress on the organism due to an unhealthy diet with food contaminated with heavy metals or environmental toxins also leads to stress on the nervous system. Lead and mercury are known to be nerve-damaging. The same applies to the regular use of medications such as antibiotics.

Extreme therapeutic measures against cancer such as chemotherapy also act as possible triggers for polyneuritis. Malignant tumors eat away at the surrounding tissue and can thus directly damage the nerve tracts. If abnormal sensations and pain occur suddenly without a slow increase in symptoms, this is usually due to an acute event.

If the effects of polyneuritis progress slowly but steadily, one or more underlying diseases are usually behind them. Heavy alcohol abuse impairs the detoxification function of the liver and kidneys. A lack of supply of nerve vitamins such as vitamin B1, B6 or B12 also increases the risk of illness immensely.

Rarely, an overdose of vitamin B6 is responsible for health problems. In addition to hypothyroidism, circulatory disorders can also be considered when narrowing down the causes. In about a quarter of the cases of the disease, a hereditary component is considered to be the main factor.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

In the case of polyneuritis, the quality of stimulus transmission is reduced. The nature of the signs of disease are motor or sensory in nature. Autonomic dysfunctions are also part of the clinical picture. As a rule, development begins with discomfort in the extremities. First, feet and legs show typical signs of hypersensitivity, later hands and arms are added.

Without external influences, those affected experience discomfort, which is accompanied by severe pain and numbness. Inflammation of sensory nerves often produces tingling sensations on the skin. Polyneuritis is also characterized by opposite reactions. Nerves no longer respond appropriately to excessive heat, pressure, or extreme cold.

The sense of pain and the sense of touch are out of balance and no longer react adequately to external influences. This creates the risk of accidental injury from burns or frostbite. Characteristics of the disease are often present on both sides of the body, although asymmetric courses also exist.

Damage to the motor nerves causes weakening and atrophy of the muscles. The attack on the autonomic nervous system provokes, among other things, cardiac arrhythmia, blood pressure fluctuations and problems in the digestive tract.

Diagnosis & course of disease

An examination of the blood and the urine can provide possible indications of polyneuritis and contribute to a diagnosis. In addition, the descriptions given by patients to the specialist confirm the suspicion of an inflammatory disease of the peripheral nervous system.

Confirmation or exclusion of polyneuritis is obtained from a neurologist through a comprehensive examination of the body and nerve conduction velocity. This tests general body functions such as muscle strength, reflexes and nerve conduction speeds. The doctor treating the patient differentiates between superficial damage to the nerve sheath and direct damage to the nerve cord.

The knowledge gained in this way allows initial conclusions to be drawn regarding the cause. An exact pathogenesis supports the further search and focuses on the exact course and history of the disease. Any underlying diseases, unexplained symptoms and the intake of medication are taken into account here. A family history of neurological disorders may indicate a genetic disposition.

As a last resort, the doctor will order a biopsy of the nerve tissue and an examination of the cerebrospinal fluid. The disease can suddenly appear very intensely without any warning or slowly spread over years over the whole body with a weak expression and manifest chronically.


Polyneuritis generally causes various abnormal sensations and sensory disturbances. However, it is not possible to predict which regions of the body will be affected by these abnormal sensations. Patients suffer from this disease with restricted mobility and in some cases also with deafness. A typical tingling sensation occurs on the skin.

Likewise, the patients can no longer properly perceive different feelings and stimuli on the skin and are therefore very restricted in their everyday life. The quality of life of the patient is also significantly reduced and negatively influenced by the polyneuritis. Injuries can also occur if those affected cannot perceive stimuli properly. The disease also leads to cardiac arrhythmia and, in the worst case, can even lead to the death of the person affected.

Difficulties in digestion can also occur. As a rule, the treatment of polyneuritis depends on the underlying disease, so the complications and further course of this disease depend heavily on this disease. However, many patients are also dependent on psychological treatment, as it is not uncommon for depression and other mental disorders to occur.

When should you go to the doctor?

In the case of polyneuritis, medical treatment is necessary in any case. This disease is not self-healing and, if left untreated, can lead, in the worst case, to death. For this reason, polyneuritis must always be treated early to prevent further complications. A doctor should be consulted if there are complaints of sensitivity in the limbs. Feet and hands are primarily affected by the symptoms. You may feel numb and tingling, and movement of these limbs may become difficult. Furthermore, external stimuli can no longer be correctly assessed, so that pressure or heat can no longer be correctly assigned. If these symptoms occur suddenly, it is essential to see a doctor.

As a rule, polyneuritis can be diagnosed by a general practitioner . The treatment of the disease always depends on the exact cause, so that no general prediction can be given about the further course. The patient’s life expectancy may also be reduced by the disease.

Treatment & Therapy

If the outbreak is based on a recognizable underlying disease, targeted therapy can be given against it. In this case, there is a prospect of a significant remission of the patient’s symptoms. Depending on the severity, cause and duration of the disease, complete recovery is even possible. If the direct reason remains unrecognized, treatment is primarily geared towards alleviating the symptoms.

High-dose vitamin preparations (B1, B12) are used to combat deficiencies. Diabetics receive alpha lipoic acid as needed. If an autoimmune reaction is considered to be the trigger, the treatment focuses on suppressing the body’s defenses. Severe cases favor the development of depression due to the ongoing physical and psychological stress on the patient.

The administration of antidepressants and local painkillers, sometimes also anticonvulsants, is then appropriate. Infectious diseases such as Lyme disease must first be thoroughly diagnosed in order to achieve appropriate medication against the pathogen. Physiotherapy helps to regenerate weakened muscle groups and alleviates joint problems.

Restrictions in their mobility and function are partially reversed. Due to the diverse causes and underlying diseases of polyneuritis, a specialist must make an exact diagnosis for a suitable therapy.


Appropriate prevention consists of avoiding potential risk factors. These include the timely diagnosis and therapy of underlying diseases that produce polyneuritis. The first warning signs give the family doctor an indication of a possible disease of the peripheral nervous system. Early medical intervention increases the chances of a positive course, of effectively slowing down the spread and of maintaining the quality of life of sick people.


‘Polyneuritis’ includes the term inflammatory processes in the nerve tracts. Shingles or the Epstein-Barr virus are among the polyneuritis. The tissue of the nerves is affected. Aftercare is advisable in order to avoid consequential damage or to keep it as low as possible.

The form of aftercare depends on the causative disease. The goal in all cases is a complete elimination of the symptoms, and the inflammation should heal in the medium to long term. The doctor must first determine the underlying disease. He administers medicine to the patient that curbs the inflammatory process.

If necessary, painkillers will be prescribed. The follow-up care lasts until the moment of healing, the healing progress is checked during the doctor’s visits. Side effects must be recognized and prevented at an early stage. In case of intolerance, the patient is given alternative medicines that are more precisely adapted to his condition.

Untreated nerve inflammation can become life-threatening. For this reason, the person concerned must also make use of the aftercare and present themselves regularly at the follow-up checks. In the event of a sudden deterioration or recurrence of the symptoms, he must seek medical treatment immediately. He is again on medication, at the doctor’s discretion hospitalization may be necessary.

You can do that yourself

Since polyneuritis is mainly caused by viruses, the patient should primarily strengthen his immune system. Because an efficient immune system is a sure weapon against invaders of all kinds, including viruses.

There are several approaches to strengthening the immune system. Holistic doctors and non- medical practitioners swear, for example, by detoxification measures using homeopathic remedies and colon cleansing (colon hydrotherapy). Since it has recently become known that 80 percent of all immune cells are located in the intestine, the administration of probiotics is also indicated. This is a preparation that contains living microorganisms that multiply in the intestine and are intended to help care for the immune system there. This preparation can be both a yoghurt and a dietary supplement or medicine. The word “probiotics” is composed of the Greek word “bios” (life) and the Latin pro (for). The name thus emphasizes the health-promoting influence that microorganisms have.

If there is also a vitamin B deficiency behind the disease, a dietary supplement with B vitamins is recommended. There are also other dietary supplements that can support the immune system. The doctor or pharmacist will advise you here. Stabilizing the immune system also includes an appropriate lifestyle: a good, healthy, varied diet, plenty of sleep and rest, but also plenty of exercise. The daily walk in the fresh air activates the immune cells – in any weather.