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neuritis(noo-ri'tis, nu-) [ neuro- + -itis]
There are many forms of neuritis, which produce a variety of symptoms, including neuralgia in the part affected, hyperesthesia, paresthesia, dysesthesia, hypesthesia, anesthesia, muscular atrophy of the body part supplied by the affected nerve, paralysis, and lack of reflexes.
Neuritis may be caused by mechanical factors (e.g., compression or contusion of the nerve) or localized infection involving direct infection of a nerve. It may accompany diseases such as leprosy, tetanus, tuberculosis, malaria, or measles. Toxins, esp. poisoning by heavy metals (arsenic, lead, mercury), alcohol, or carbon tetrachloride, may also be a cause. Neuritis may accompany thiamine deficiency, gastrointestinal dysfunction, diabetes, toxemias of pregnancy, or peripheral vascular disease.
Changes in motor and sensory function are monitored. Correct positioning and prescribed analgesic drugs are used to relieve pain. Rest is provided, and affected extremities are rested by limiting their use and by using supportive appliances. Passive range-of-motion exercises are performed to help prevent contracture formation. Skin care is provided, and proper nutrition and dietary therapy are prescribed for metabolic disorders. Health care providers remove causative factors or counsel the patient about their avoidance. After pain subsides, prescribed activities are performed (e.g., massage, electrostimulation, and exercise).
Symptoms are related to the suddenness of onset and severity. Usually, lower limbs are affected first, with weakness that may progress until the entire body is affected. Muscle strength, deep tendon reflexes, sensory nerves, and autonomic nerves become involved.
Causes include infectious diseases (e.g., diphtheria), metabolic disorders (e.g., alcoholism, diabetes, pellagra, beriberi, sprue), and various poisons, including lead. In some instances, the disease arises without apparent cause.
Causative factors should be removed if possible. Treatment includes skilled nursing, with particular care taken to prevent bedsores, and dietary therapy (depending upon the cause).
The main symptom is acute loss of vision in one or both eyes. Pain may be absent or may be unbearable, lasting for only a brief period or for days.
This type of neuritis may be caused by a variety of illnesses, but in adults it is most frequently associated with multiple sclerosis.