Did you know that your medicine might damage your nerves?


You take medicine to cure an illness. Did you know that your medicine might have a side reaction? Most people may not get serious side reactions and can tolerate their medicine and begin to feel better. Very few, however, may get a side reaction called peripheral neuropathy or numbness of fingers from nerve damage. In most cases, stopping the medicine will stop this damage.

If you want to read more about what to do if your fingers feel numb after taking a certain few prescribed drugs, then click on the title of the following excellent current scientific articles, which are not too unpleasant to read because they are so full of simple facts. However, always consult your doctor since the risks must be balanced with the positive aspects of taking this medicine.

Peripheral neuropathy

Many more agents are suspected of causing neuropathy than discussed. Despite the lengthy and fastidious drug approval process, rare and idiosyncratic causes of medication-induced neuropathy may only become evident after wide-usage. Medication-induced toxicity should be at least considered in new cases of neuropathy including apparent idiopathic forms. Also importantly, patients with existing neuropathy of known or presumed cause should have their current regimen and planned therapy considered for potential neurotoxicity. Some preventative agents against chemotherapy toxicity show promise, but none are yet approved for routine use against neurotoxic effects.

Platinum neurotoxicity

Current research has shown insight into the mechanisms of nerve damage caused by the platinum agents. After entering the DRG, the platinum agent forms an adduct with DNA. Apoptosis has been observed in DRG neurons following cisplatin treatment both in vitro and in vivo (31) and is correlated with increased platinum-DNA binding in these DRG neurons (31). Oxaliplatin and cisplatin differ in their severity of neurotoxicity to the DRG. Cisplatin produced about three times more platinum-DNA adducts in the DRG (32) than equimolar doses of oxaliplatin, consistent with clinical observations that cisplatin is associated with greater neurotoxicity.

A genome wide association study (which asks if your genes dictate a tendency towards nerve damage)

Purpose:Sensory peripheral neuropathy is a common and sometimes debilitating toxicity associated with paclitaxel therapy. This study aims to identify genetic risk factors for development of this toxicity. Experimental Design: A prospective pharmacogenetic analysis of primary breast cancer patients randomized to the paclitaxel arm of CALGB 40101 was used to identify genetic predictors of the onset and severity of sensory peripheral neuropathy.

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