While many of my blog posts address tips, tricks and advice in regards to some foot condition, at times, I feel it is very important to review and have an understanding of the issues themselves. One of the most common symptoms of diabetes is diabetic neuropathy.
What is Diabetic Neuropathy?
Neuropathy is nerve damage that may be caused by a number of different medical conditions. Individuals with chronic high blood sugar have a greater risk of developing diabetic neuropathy. According to several studies, between 60 and 70 percent of people with diabetes have some degree of neuropathy. Damaged blood vessels, nerve inflammation, carpal tunnel syndrome and other mechanical injuries to the nerves can also help to cause this condition.
What are the Symptoms?
Some people with diabetic neuropathy don't notice any symptoms, especially at first. For many, the first signs are numbness, pain, or tingling in the feet, legs, hands, or arms. A wide variety of other symptoms may come with nerve damage. Watch for stomach issues like constipation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and indigestion. Some people with the condition experience wasting of the muscles. Women may have vaginal dryness, and men may exhibit erectile dysfunction. Both sexes may have trouble urinating, and may faint or become dizzy from a drop in blood pressure. Many people with diabetic neuropathy experience weight loss and depression, though they are not considered to be neuropathy symptoms.
Could You Have Diabetic Neuropathy?
Some individuals inherit a higher likelihood of developing a nerve disease, so they are more susceptible to diabetic neuropathy. Smoking and drinking alcohol can also increase a person's risk of developing the condition. Additionally, people who have had diabetes for 25 years or longer have the highest rate of neuropathy. This is likely because their bodies have the hardest time regulating blood sugar. They have also been exposed to more occurrences of high blood glucose incidents than people who have been newly diagnosed with diabetes.
Diagnosing Diabetic Neuropathy
There are six tests often used to diagnose a diabetic patient with neuropathy. If you show possible symptoms, a doctor will likely first try a filament test. He or she will use a nylon fiber, known as a monofilament, to examine your sensitivity to touch. A physician may also perform a nerve conduction study to measure the electrical signals in your nerves. Next, an electromyography or EMG may be necessary. It more extensively assesses a patient's nerve reactions. Quantitative sensory testing and autonomic testing may also be done if your doctor feels they will be useful.
Treating Diabetic Neuropathy
If you are diagnosed with diabetic neuropathy, you will learn that there is no cure for the condition. Instead, health care providers work with diabetic patients to relieve pain and slow neuropathy's progression. Managing your blood sugar may be the first line of defense when treating neuropathy. Keeping your levels inside a healthy range can lessen additional nerve damage. A physician may tell you to change your lifestyle by eating a more balanced diet, quitting drinking and smoking, and working toward a healthy weight. Working with a nutritionist could make it easier to adjust to and achieve these changes.
Knowledge is one of the most preventative measures you can have. I hope this information finds you all well and if you experience any of the potential symptoms, please make sure to seek medical attention ASAP. The sooner you are diagnosed, the more likely you will be able to slow its progress and effectively treat your symptoms.