Do you worry that diabetic neuropathy will rob you of your senses? Read to discover what diabetic neuropathy is, what its causes are, its risk factors, types, symptoms and more.
What is diabetic neuropathy?
Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that occurs in diabetes patients due to injury to nerve cells from high blood sugar levels. Usually, the nerves of the legs and feet are the first to be affected. Diabetic neuropathy is a complication of diabetes that occurs over a long period of time, usually 10 to 12 years.
What causes diabetic neuropathy?
The nerve damage in diabetic neuropathy can be direct or indirect. The root cause of neuropathy is poorly regulated blood sugar levels. Long-standing high blood sugar levels cause injury to the nerves. Additionally, the blood vessels that carry nutrients and oxygen to the nerves are damaged, resulting in poor blood supply to the nerves. Both of these conditions occur over a long period of time.
Who’s at risk of developing diabetic neuropathy?
You’re at risk of developing neuropathy if you have diabetes. Your risk further increases if you have the following coexisting conditions –
- High blood pressure
- High blood cholesterol levels
- Kidney disease
- Your risk is further increased by smoking and drinking alcohol.
What are the types of diabetic neuropathy?
- Peripheral neuropathy – The most common type, this usually affects the feet and legs, and sometimes the hands as well
- Autonomic neuropathy – Here, the nerves that control your organs are damaged
- Proximal neuropathy – This is associated with weakness in hips, buttocks and shoulders.
- Mononeuropathy – A single nerve in your hand or leg is affected
What are the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy?
- Burning sensation or shooting kind of pain
- Increased sensitivity to pain
- Tingling sensation
- Pins and needles sensation of the foot
- Complete loss of sensation and numbness
- Poor healing of wounds
How is diabetic neuropathy diagnosed?
- Foot examination – Your feet are examined for evidence of ulcers, wounds, and loss of sensation
- Biothesiometry – Using a special instrument, vibrations are applied gradually to the foot until the person is able to feel it. This helps in detecting the level of sensation in the feet
- Ansiscope – This helps in determining the degree of dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system (the system that controls internal organ function)
What is the treatment for diabetic neuropathy?
- The first step towards managing diabetic neuropathy is managing your blood sugar levels. You will have to take your anti-diabetic medicines regularly, eat a healthy and nutritious diet and follow exercises routinely.
- You may be advised to take pain medicines which include topical medicines and sometimes tablets.
- You may also be advised to wear a special type of footwear to protect your feet from damage.
Can diabetic neuropathy be cured?
Diabetic neuropathy cannot be ‘cured’ since nerve damage is not reversible. he body Rather, the treatment focusses on preventing more damage that can lead to severe complications.
How can I prevent diabetic neuropathy?
- Regulate sugar levels and bring your diabetes under control
- Control blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels
- Quit smoking and excessive indulgence in alcohol
- Follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly
- Ensure that you are monitoring your blood sugar level and consulting your specialist on time
How does exercise help neuropathy?
Regular exercise can enhance your muscle strength, lessen the pain associated with neuropathy, and help control your weight, which in turn helps regulate blood sugar levels.
What are the complications of diabetic neuropathy?
- Pain that hampers regular and normal movements
- Loss of balance and inability to walk due to decreased sensations
- Loss of sensation and numbness which causes wounds to go unnoticed
- Poor wound healing and infection which can eventually lead to amputations
- Loss of bladder control and urinary infections
- Severe infections and widespread sepsis
- Increased or decreased sweating
- Issues in digestion
Is diabetic neuropathy fatal?
Although diabetic neuropathy can originate anywhere in the body, it usually starts in the feet. The toes and feet are the first parts of the body to be affected by diabetic neuropathy because it first affects the tips of the longest nerves. Potential signs include sharp pain that could get worse at night, a feeling of tingling or burning, and pain when walking. Some people may have only minor symptoms, while others experience sharp, penetrating pain. If neglected, diabetic neuropathy in some situations can result in severe infections, amputation of the concerned limb, sepsis and sometimes even death.