The main cause of chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) is an attack by the body's immune system on the myelin sheath, which leads to inflammation of the peripheral nerves, notes the National Institutes of Health's MedlinePlus. The myelin sheath is a protective covering found over nerve fibers. The exact trigger that causes the immune system to destroy the myelin sheath can vary or also may be linked with other conditions.
Some conditions that may be associated with CIDP are diabetes, lymphoma, autoimmune disorders, inflammatory bowel syndrome and HIV, states MedlinePlus. CIDP is also connected to Gillian-Barre syndrome (GBS) because they can have similar symptoms that manifest, such as weakness in the limbs and loss of sensation, according to the GBS/CIDP Foundation International. In Gillian-Barre syndrome, the inflammation also occurs in the peripheral nerves, but the symptoms can manifest in a matter of 14 to 30 days. In the condition CIDP, the symptoms progress slowly.
In some cases, CIDP can manifest as a side effect of taking certain cancer or HIV drugs. Other times, the trigger for this condition is entirely unknown.
The damage to nerve fibers and the inflammation in the affected nerves, which usually are located in the legs and arms, can present CIDP symptoms that include tingling, numbness, loss of reflexes and progressive weakness in the affected limbs. To make a diagnosis of CIDP, the symptoms must be present 8 weeks or longer, states Medscape.