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The Human Nervous System

Neuritis involves the inflammation, damage or destruction of nerve tissue. This condition can affect a single nerve or groups of nerves. It is also sometimes referred to as neuropathy. Permanent damage can result in weakness in the muscles and wasting. There is also a loss of the sense of touch and a decrease in some reflexes. With peripheral n., it can happen at any age, but it is most common in men between age 30 and 50. When it affects the optic nerve, it is known as optic n. With this version, the vision blurs and may be totally lost.


One of the first symptoms may be a sense of weariness or weakness in the legs. When you first begin feeling sensory changes, they usually begin with the lower extremities and work their way up as the condition progresses. Anemia and edema may appear. Symptoms of neuritis may include stabbing pain in the affected area, burning sensations, tingling and sometimes temporary paralysis. Some types of neuritis are also accompanied by a high fever and slight jaundice as well as paralysis.


This condition can result from an autoimmune disorder, a metabolic disorder, poor diet, injury, heredity, infections or inflammation, exposure to toxins such as arsenic, mercury, copper or zinc, or as a side effect from certain medications. Alcohol abuse can result in this problem, as can infectious diseases like diphtheria, typhoid fever, leprosy, scarlet fever, smallpox, influenza, tuberculosis and beri-beri. It may also be associated with diabetes, gout and rheumatism. Peripheral neuropathy can be caused by repetitive activities, pressure on a nerve, nutritional deficiencies, medications and exposure to chemicals.


Left untreated, neuritis can affect the spinal cord and result in severe complications like meningitis.

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