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Category: Diseases of The Nervous System
Other names: Polyneuritis, Disseminated Neuritis,
Peripheral Neuritis. Meaning--Multiple neuritis is an inflammatory disease
of the peripheral (toward the end of the nerves or external nerves)
nervous system. It varies much in extent and intensity and affects
symmetrical parts of the body.
Varieties. These arise from differences in the nature, causes, severity
and location of the disease process.
Causes. They are many. (1.) The poison that comes from infectious
diseases such as typhoid fever, diphtheria, smallpox, leprosy, la grippe,
etc. (2) From poisons such as alcohol, lead, arsenic; phosphorus, mercury,
coal gas, etc. (3) From anemia, cancer, tuberculosis, syphilis,
septicemia, diabetes. (4) From cold, over-exertion, etc.
Symptoms. Acute febrile multiple neuritis. A typical case: This comes on
from exposure to cold, over-exertion, or in some cases spontaneously.
There are chills, headaches, pains in the back, limbs and joints, and the
case may be called rheumatism. Loss of appetite, coated tongue,
constipation, and other symptoms of stomach and bowel trouble. The
temperature rises rapidly, and may go to 103 to 104 degrees. The limbs and
back ache, but intense pain in the nerves are not always constant. The
pain is usually sharp, severe, and located in the limbs, and is worse from
moving and pressure. There are tingling feelings in the hands, feet and
body, and a feeling as if ants or insects were crawling over them, and
there is also increased sensitiveness of the nerve trunks or entire limb.
There is loss of muscular power, first marked, perhaps, in the legs, and
it extends upwards and reaches the arms. Sometimes it first begins in the
arms. In typical cases the extending muscles of the wrist and ankles drop.
(Wristdrop and foot-drop). In severe cases there is a general loss of
muscular power, producing a flabby paralysis. This may extend to the
muscles that control speaking, swallowing and hearing resulting in
impairment of these functions. The muscles soften and waste away rapidly.
Disorders of nutrition are frequent, like watery swelling (oedema), glossy
looking skin, sweating, hives, etc.
Recovery. The course of the disease varies considerably. In mild cases
the symptoms disappear very soon. In the worst form the patient may die in
a week or ten days. As a rule, in moderately severe cases after persisting
for five or six weeks, the condition remains about the same for a few
months, and then improvement slowly begins and recovery takes place in six
to twelve months. In neuritis from alcohol drinking there is a rapid onset
as a rule, with delirium and delusions. The result is usually favorable
and after persisting for weeks or months improvement gradually begins, the
muscles regain their power, and even in the most desperate cases recovery
may follow. The mental symptoms are very severe in alcoholic cases.
Delirium is common. It takes much longer for such cases to regain what
they call their normal condition.
Neuritis following diphtheria and other infectious diseases. The outlook
in cases from these diseases is usually favorable, and except in
diphtheria, fatal cases are uncommon. It is most common from diphtheria.
Recovery, in neuritis from diphtheria, takes place in about three months,
but some cases are fatal.
Next: Neuritis from lead
Previous: Simple Neuritis