Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is a common complication of diabetes, in which nerves or group of nerves are damaged because of high blood sugar level. Symptoms of nerve damage can range from tingling and numbness in one’s extremities, resulting in an extreme sensitivity to touch, burning or piercing pain, having trouble feeling heat or cold, as well as a loss of sensation.

Although there might be no symptoms in the early stage, the following symptoms may develop as the disease progresses:

  • Pain, tingling, numbness or loss of feeling in the toes, hands, arms, feet and legs.
  • Wasting of the muscles of the feet or hands.
  • Indigestion, nausea or vomiting.
  • Constipation or diarrhea.
  • Dizziness or faintness due to drop in blood pressure after standing or sitting up.
  • Problem with urination.
  • Erectile dysfunction in men or vaginal dryness in women.

Nerve problems can occur in every organ system, including the digestive tract, heart and sex organs.

What are the Consequence of Diabetic Neuropathy?

One of the most common complications of diabetic neuropathy is loss of limb. Because nerve damage can cause reduced or loss of sensation in the feet, sores and small injuries may go unnoticed and become badly ulcerated, infected and difficult to heal. The healing process is also compromised by poorer circulation in diabetics. Eventually, amputation of the toe, foot or even lower leg may be necessary if treatment is no longer possible. While you may know that diabetes can lead to amputation, you may not know that the actual cause of amputation is nerve damage which can actually be avoided with proper nerve care. Other complications of diabetic neuropathy to watch out for include joint deformities, sharp pain and extreme sensitivity of limbs, urinary tract infections, incontinence, low blood pressure, digestive problems, sexual dysfunction, eye complications and more.

How to Prevent or Delay Neuropathy & Its Complications?

  • Tight blood sugar control.
  • Appropriate dietary control.
  • Proper foot care.
  • Regular exercise – To avoid further injuries, non-weight-bearing exercise such as swimming and yoga are recommended for patients with neuropathy and decreased sensation of legs.
  • Stop smoking

In populations at risk of neuropathy, especially diabetics, early detection and treatment of neuropathy is crucial to avoid irreversible damage to nerves.

 

Read more about the benefits of vitamin B1, B6 & B12 in diabetic neuropathy, click here.

The information contained in this article is not intended or designed to diagnose, prevent, treat or provide a cure for any condition or disease, to ascertain the state of your health or be substituted for medical care. Merck encourages you to seek advice from your doctor or healthcare professional if you have any questions or concerns arising from the information in this article.

References:

  1. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Diabetic Neuropathies: The Nerve Damage of Diabetes. http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/neuropathies/
  2. Peripheral Neuropathy: Symptoms and Causes. 2016. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/peripheral-neuropathy/symptoms-causes/dxc-20204947 Accessed on 31 March 2017
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