Damage to the nerves that occurs due to diabetes is called ‘diabetic neuropathy’. Any nerve can get affected due to high blood sugar in diabetes. One may experience variable symptoms ranging from loss of sensation and pain in extremities like legs or feet to problems with digestion, urinary system, heart, and blood vessels.
DIABETIC NEUROPATHY CAUSES
Nerve damage or diabetic neuropathy is a common phenomenon among diabetics, affecting approximately 60-70% of them. In India, of all complications, diabetic neuropathy is found to be the most common one and is already present in 13% of newly diagnosed diabetics.
People with diabetes can develop nerve damage over time, due to factors such as restricted blood supply or harmful effects of high blood sugar on the nerves and nerve endings. The longer the duration of diabetes and poorer the blood sugar control, the more likely is the development of diabetic neuropathy.
DIABETIC NEUROPATHY SYMPTOMS
Based on the nerves that are affected in the case of diabetic neuropathy, diabetic people have various symptoms that may vary from person to person. Most often, these may go unnoticed.
In those who can feel the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, common characteristics include numbness, burning, tingling or deep pain in the toes and feet, which eventually extend to upper arms, hands and fingers.
When the autonomic nerves that are involved in the involuntary functions in the body are affected, symptoms specific to the system affected may appear. These are:
- Cardiovascular symptoms
- Unnoticeable angina (chest pain or squeezing sensation)
- Fast heart beat
- Low BP while standing up
- Exercise intolerance
- Gastrointestinal symptoms
- Nausea, diarrhoea, constipation
- Delayed gastric emptying
- Abdominal fullness
- Swallowing problems
- Genitourinary symptoms
- Problems with urination
- Sexual problems
- Miscellaneous symptoms
- Unawareness of low blood sugar
- Sweating disturbances
DIABETIC NEUROPATHY TREATMENT / MANAGEMENT
Diabetic neuropathy treatment is mostly precautionary and involves preventive tips, as diabetic neuropathy cannot be completely cured. Here’s how you can manage diabetic neuropathy:
- Slowing the disease
- Keeping your blood sugar, blood pressure and weight under control
- Checking for early signs and symptoms of diabetic neuropathy regularly, especially your foot maintaining a healthy lifestyle through diet and physical activity
- Avoiding alcohol or drinking in moderation and quitting smoking
- Managing pain and complications
- Seeing your doctor for the management of neuropathic pain and associated complications