Diabetes and Nerve Damage

Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage that can occur in people with diabetes. Different types of nerve damage cause different symptoms. Symptoms can range from pain and numbness in your feet to problems with the functions of your internal organs.

Over time, high blood glucose levels, also called blood sugar, and high levels of fats, such as triglycerides, in the blood from diabetes can damage your nerves. Symptoms depend on which type of diabetic neuropathy you have.

Autonomic neuropathy affects involuntary functions of the nervous system such as heart rate, bladder control, and breathing. This disorder can cause major disruptions to daily living. A big telltale sign of this disorder is sudden drops in blood pressure leading to dizziness and fainting.

Focal neuropathy damages the nerves responsible for feeling and touch. This disorder develops slowly with symptoms beginning in the hands and feet. Pain and burning in the lower and upper extremities and loss of feeling in hands and feet are two major symptoms. Muscle cramps are also very common.

The biggest risk factor for developing neuropathy is poor blood sugar control. There are other risk factors like smoking and high cholesterol that increase the risk of diabetics developing neuropathy. There is no cure for neuropathy, so early detection and prevention are key. If you are diabetic and are experiencing some of the symptoms above, or others, contact a medical professional immediately.

Home health agencies can help by providing comprehensive diabetes training programs through multiple home nursing visits.

Learn more:

Diabetic Neuropathy. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Available from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/nerve-damage-diabetic-neuropathies

Nerve Damage. [Internet] Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/diabetes-nerve-damage.html

Understanding Neuropathy and Your Diabetes. [Internet] Available from: https://diabetes.org/diabetes/neuropathy

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