Diabetes is a serious condition that affects scores of people worldwide. Diabetic Neuropathy is one of the common effects that affects diabetics, especially in their later years.
Heres what you need to know about Diabetic Neuropathy and learn how you can delay its onset in your golden years.
What Is Diabetic Neuropathy?
The word neuropathy refers to any disease or dysfunction of peripheral nerves that can lead to weakness and numbing. Diabetic Neuropathy occurs when high blood sugar levels affect your nerves over a period of time.
Diabetic neuropathy can affect the nerves of any part of your body. The spectrum of its impact can range from pain or numbness in the legs to problems with the digestive system, heart or other internal organs.
Know Some Facts About Diabetic Neuropathy
It is vital to understand the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy if you or someone close to you has diabetes. Here are a few things you need to know about diabetic neuropathy.
- Diabetic Neuropathy is a progressive disease. It is therefore important to watch out for its symptoms to avoid any significant long term damage.
- It is a common effect of diabetes and irreversible, but manageable.
- The intensity of its symptoms can vary from mild pain or numbness to debilitating pain.
- There are 4 types of Diabetic neuropathy and you can have more than one type.
- Diabetic Neuropathy (DN) can affect the nerves responsible for key functions like movement and breathing.
- The impacts of DN can last a lifetime in some cases.
How Many Types of Diabetic Neuropathy Are There?
There are 4 primary types of diabetes based neuropathies. Some involve the peripheral nerves, while others affect the nerves of the internal organs such as the heart, gut, kidney or eyes.
- Peripheral Neuropathy: It is the most common type, with symptoms that worsen at night. It starts as numbness in the extremities - arms, feet, legs, hands, and toes. Symptoms include pain, numbness, loss of balance and muscle tone.
- Proximal or Femoral Neuropathy: The pain and numbness here affect the upper legs, specifically the buttocks, thighs, and hips. This neuropathy is more common to older people and those with Type 2 diabetes. This is a neuropathy of the plexus region and it starts with pain in the buttocks, hips, thighs or legs. It often affects one side of the body and can start gradually or come on suddenly.
- Autonomic Neuropathy: This neuropathy impacts the nerves that supply to or interact with internal organs controlling involuntary functions of the body like breathing, seeing, digestion, sweating or heart rate. This neuropathy can be more crippling because it affects bodily functions. It can present a range of symptoms based on the set of nerves affected. There could be trouble swallowing, nausea, loss of appetite in the digestive system or bladder problems and sexual dysfunction when nerves of the body’s middle section are affected.
- Focal Neuropathy: Also known as Mononeuropathy, it strikes suddenly in a specific area and causes severe pain - usually in the face, torso or leg. It happens mostly to people older in age and does not cause any long-term problems.
Can Diabetic Neuropathy Be Prevented?
Diabetic Neuropathy can be irreversible in some diabetes cases. However, you can take some steps to delay its onset:
- Regularly monitor and keep your blood sugar in control
- Check your feet to make sure there are no persistent wounds or infections
- If you have diabetes, report any persistent pain (beyond a week) to your doctor
- A healthy diet can help - go for nuts, fruits and vegetables
- Stop smoking and avoid alcohol
- Your daily exercise regime can include some stretches or yoga pose