D is for diabetic neuropathy

June 20, 2023

Diabetic neuropathy is the nerve damage that occurs in those with long-term diabetes. It is the damage to the sensory nerves that permits damage to the foot to go unnoticed, resulting in many diabetic foot complications.

Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that occurs as a result of long-term diabetes. It is a common complication of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Prolonged high blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels and nerves throughout the body, leading to various symptoms and complications.

There are several types of diabetic neuropathy, including peripheral neuropathy, autonomic neuropathy, proximal neuropathy, and focal neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy is the most common type and affects the peripheral nerves, which control sensation and movement in the limbs.

The symptoms of diabetic neuropathy depend on the type of neuropathy and the nerves affected. Common symptoms include numbness, tingling, pain or discomfort (typically in the feet and hands), muscle weakness, loss of coordination, burning sensations, and sensitivity to touch. In autonomic neuropathy, symptoms may involve digestive issues, bladder problems, sexual dysfunction, and changes in blood pressure and heart rate.

The risk of developing diabetic neuropathy increases with poorly controlled blood sugar levels over an extended period. Other factors that contribute to neuropathy include smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, high blood fat levels, and kidney disease.

A healthcare professional may diagnose diabetic neuropathy based on symptoms, a physical examination, and various tests. These tests may include nerve conduction studies, electromyography (EMG), and sensory tests to evaluate nerve function.

The primary goal of treating diabetic neuropathy is to manage the underlying cause, which is diabetes. Good blood sugar control is crucial in slowing the progression of nerve damage. Pain relief can be achieved through medications such as pain relievers, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other interventions may be helpful in managing symptoms and improving overall quality of life.

The best way to prevent or delay diabetic neuropathy is to effectively manage diabetes. This involves maintaining target blood sugar levels, eating a balanced diet, engaging in regular physical activity, and taking medications as prescribed. Regular check-ups with healthcare providers are essential to monitor and manage the condition effectively.

Diabetic neuropathy can lead to various complications if left untreated or uncontrolled. These complications may include foot ulcers, infections, bone and joint problems, and even amputation in severe cases. Autonomic neuropathy can also cause complications related to heart, digestive, and urinary function.


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