What You Need To Know About Diabetic Neuropathy

According to researchers, 60 percent of people with diabetes suffer from some form of neuropathy. A common and serious complication of diabetes, neuropathy affects your nerves, which become damaged as the result of uncontrolled blood sugar levels. (1)

While diabetic neuropathy develops gradually, it gets progressively worse over time. If left untreated, neuropathy can lead to injuries and infections in your extremities, which can be incredibly debilitating. (2)

That’s why it’s so important to catch it early and give yourself a much better chance at managing your symptoms and slowing the progression of the problem.

Types of Diabetic Neuropathy

Neuropathy isn’t a single condition, but rather a broad term to describe several types of nerve damage. The four most common types of neuropathy in people with diabetes are (3):

Peripheral Neuropathy – Peripheral neuropathy is the most common type in people with diabetes. It typically affects the feet, hands, arms, or legs. Symptoms can vary, and they may range from mild to severe. These include:

  • Muscle pain or cramping.
  • Numbness, tingling, or burning sensations.
  • Insensitivity to hot and cold temperatures.
  • Sensitivity to touch.
  • Peripheral neuropathy can cause a number of complications, including: Muscle weakness and wasting. Loss of reflexes. Changes in mobility and balance, causing foot injuries and deformities.
  • Slow or difficult wound healing.
  • A risk of infection requiring amputation.

Autonomic Neuropathy – Autonomic neuropathy is the second most common type and affects the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary body systems and functions. It may affect your digestive or cardiovascular systems, your sweat glands or sex organs, or the bladder.

Depending on the nerves affected, autonomic neuropathy is associated with serious complications, including:

  • Digestive problems, including frequent nausea and vomiting, trouble swallowing, and constipation or diarrhea.
  • Masked symptoms of hypoglycemia that can make it hard to accurately monitor blood glucose levels.
  • Erectile dysfunction, vaginal dryness, and other sexual problems.
  • Incontinence or difficulty emptying the bladder fully.
  • Dangerous shifts in heart rate and blood pressure.
  • An increased risk of heart attack.

Proximal Neuropathy – Proximal neuropathy is less common than peripheral and autonomic. Also known as diabetic amyotrophy, this type of neuropathy most commonly affects older adults with type 2 diabetes. It typically occurs in the legs, hips, and thighs and affects just one side of the body. In severe cases, the resulting pain and loss of muscle tone makes mobility difficult.

Focal Neuropathy (Also called Mononeuropathy) – Focal neuropathy, also known as mononeuropathy, affects a specific nerve or nerve group, causing weakness in the affected area. Focal neuropathy onsets suddenly. It can affect the head, legs, or upper body, and may be very painful.

Unlike other forms of neuropathy, focal neuropathy typically goes away within a few weeks or months and doesn’t usually cause permanent damage.

Symptoms of focal neuropathy include:

  • Eye problems, including the inability to focus, double vision, and aching behind the eyes
  • Bell’s palsy, which causes paralysis on one side of the face.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Isolated areas of pain, such as in the stomach, shin, thigh, or lower back.

Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy

The earliest symptoms of diabetic neuropathy typically affect your hands, legs, and feet. Usually, this means you’ll feel tingling, numbness, pain, or muscle weakness in your extremities. (2)

But that isn’t all, left unchecked, there’s a great chance of developing many more troubling symptoms, like:

  • A sensitivity to touch
  • A reduced sense of balance and coordination
  • Poor digestive health
  • Problems regulating your sweat glands
  • Dizziness when moving between sitting and standing positions
  • Issues with blurred or double vision (2)

Causes of Diabetic Neuropathy

Your risk of developing diabetic neuropathy dramatically increases when your blood sugar levels are poorly controlled over a prolonged period of time. (2)

Remember, continues high blood sugar levels puts you at risk of developing diabetes, and 6 out of every 10 individuals with diabetes will experience neuropathy at some point. (2)

How Diabetic Neuropathy is Diagnosed

While neuropathy has many potential causes, in order for your doctor to make a full diagnosis, they’ll:

Examine your full medical history. This includes your symptoms, your lifestyle, toxins you may have been exposed to, your drinking habits, and a comprehensive family history of any nervous system or neurological issues. (2)

In some cases, they’ll even need to test out the reflexes of your tendons, your muscles, your posture or your level of coordination. (2)

How Diabetic Neuropathy is Treated

While there are no cures for diabetic neuropathy, the goal is to treat the conditions that create your symptoms, and work to relieve them.

One way to slow the progression of the problem is to keep you blood sugar levels in check by making the necessary adjustments to your diet and getting an ample amount of consistent exercise. (2)

And don’t forget, the formulas of Nerveology are here for to help you manage your symptoms as well. Our Nerve Support Complex is packed with the kinds of vitamins and nutrients your healthy body needs to keep the bothersome symptoms of neuropathy at bay.

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(1) Cold, Flu & Cough, Eye Health, Heart Disease, Lung Disease, Pain Management, Sexual Conditions, Skin Problems, Sleep Disorders, Symptom Checker, and Expert Interviews. 2019. “Diabetes Nerve Damage”. Webmd. Accessed March 26 2019. https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/nerve-damage-diabetes#1

(2) “Peripheral Neuropathy – Symptoms And Causes”. 2019. Mayo Clinic. Accessed March 28 2019. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/peripheral-neuropathy/symptoms-causes/syc-20352061.

(3) “Diabetic Neuropathy Types: Symptoms Tell The Story”. 2019. Mayo Clinic. Accessed March 28 2019. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetic-neuropathy/in-depth/diabetic-neuropathy-types/art-20094456.

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