Diabetic neuropathy is caused by high level of blood sugar for a prolonged period. This is a condition where high level of sugar in blood damages nerves that are spread throughout our body. While Autonomic Neuropathy affects internal organs, hands and feet are affected by Peripheral Neuropathy.
In addition to high level of sugar, overweight, high blood pressure and high cholesterol increase the risks of diabetic neuropathy. It has been observed that about 50% of people suffering from high blood sugar are likely to be affected by this diabetic neuropathy. In addition to numbness of feet and arms, normal functioning of heart and sex organs may be affected by this disease.
Causes of Diabetic Neuropathy
Scientists are yet to ascertain how high blood sugar level for prolonged period damage nerves. However, they have identified several factors that contribute in developing diabetes neuropathy.
Some diabetic patients may risk neuropathy if they smoke or drink alcohol excessively. Neuropathy of diabetic patients may be caused from damaged blood vessels and inflammation of nerves. If you are older than 40 years and suffering from substantially high sugar level in blood then there is high chance of being affected by diabetic neuropathy.
Common Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy
Damages inflicted by diabetic neuropathy may vary with the type and nature of affected nerves. Sense of pain, hot and cold may be affected when the peripheral nerves are damaged. There is a numbing or tingling effect in feet or hands. Autonomic nerves control heartbeat, sweating, sexual function, urination and digestion.
Diabetic neuropathy may trigger digestive problems like bloating, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. Such digestive problems may ultimately lead to diabetic gastroparesis. There may be problems in urination, erection and vaginal dryness due to diabetic neuropathy. When certain nerves are affected by diabetic neuropathy there are complications affecting blood circulation and functioning of heart.
Proximal neuropathy is common among old people suffering from type 2 diabetes for prolonged period. Thighs, buttocks and hips get affected, weakening the legs. Inability to focus, double vision, lower back pain and pain in different body parts may be caused by Focal Neuropathy.
Complications and Tests of Diabetic Neuropathy
The health issues arising out of diabetic neuropathy may get complicated. This may lead to infection in urinary bladder or kidneys. Loss of feeling may result in injury to feet. Muscles, skin and soft tissues get damaged when level of blood sugar is not managed properly for prolonged period.
Tests like electromyogram (EMG) that reveals electrical activity of muscles may be used for identifying lack of reflexes. Nerve conduction velocity (NCV) test that records the speed of signals traveling along nerves may be used for evaluating the level of damaged nerves.
Managing Diabetic Neuropathy
Management of diabetic neuropathy should begin from the very detection of diabetes. Primary care physician should make the concerned person aware about the risk. People with high sugar level in blood should be educated about the factors that can accelerate or trigger diabetic neuropathy.
It is desirable to learn about symptoms and signs that are commonly associated with this nervous disorder arising out of uncontrolled diabetes. Managing blood sugar level, keeping body weight and blood pressure under control are some common measures that can be followed to manage diabetic neuropathy.