When you have diabetes, you must watch your condition carefully to avoid complications of the disease. Diabetes not only affects your blood sugar, but also affects other bodily functions. One serious possible complication is diabetic neuropathy. This complication happens when blood sugar remains high for prolonged periods and causes damage to the nerves.
There are several types of diabetic neuropathy and all of them can significantly impact your life. Here is more information on the condition and how to manage it so that it doesn't become disabling.
Types of Diabetic Neuropathy
Because there are several types of nerve fibers in the body, there are different types of diabetic neuropathy. Four types have been identified and they each affect different functions of the body. Knowing which kind you have is helpful for effective treatment.
This common type of neuropathy affects the areas the furthest from the brain and spinal cord, namely the long nerves hands and the feet. This means you may experience pain while walking, numbness or sores and infections that heal slowly or not at all. You could even get sores and injuries without realizing it which makes infections much more likely to happen.
This type of neuropathy affects your internal autonomic functions such as your digestion, your heart beating and your lungs ability to breathe properly.
Symptoms of this condition include incontinence, problems with sweating too little or too much and difficulties with your heart rate. This condition may make it difficult to enjoy your favorite meal or do your favorite exercise.
While peripheral neuropathy affects the nerves furthest from the brain and spinal column, proximal neuropathy affects nerves closer to the end of the spine such as the hips, upper legs and lower back.
Many people dismiss this problem as sciatica, but it's a bit more complicated. Proximal neuropathy can cause muscle weakness and affect your ability to stand or walk. Fortunately, this condition can get better with rest and the proper treatment.
This type of neuropathy covers any other types not mentioned above. Mainly, focal neuropathy affects one specific nerve in one part of the body. Examples include pain and weakness around the eyes, the wrist or lower back. Focal neuropathy can get worse over time and is debilitating if not treated early.
Diagnosing Diabetic Neuropathy
Diagnosing diabetic neuropathy involves several neurological tests such as testing the speed of nerve signals as well as the amount of electrical signals in your muscles. Doctors will also want to thoroughly check your feet, which you should do at least every year with your usual physical. They will look for nerve reactions as well as check for sores and infections.
Prevention and Treatment for Diabetic Neuropathy
The best way to prevent diabetic neuropathy is to control your blood sugar levels as best as possible. Certain medications can help you manage your blood sugar level or control your pain. Your doctor may also prescribe other medication related to treating your nerves specifically.
Supplements such as vitamin B as well as exercise can help reduce the symptoms. Heating and cooling packs can also help, but since this condition causes nerve damage, you might not be able to feel if it's too hot and cold, so take precautions with using them.
Diabetes can have serious and unexpected complications when it comes to your nervous system. At first, you may think this is a passing problem, but if you talk to your doctor as soon as you notice the symptoms, then these problems will likely have only minor consequences.
In addition to talking to your general practitioner, if you think you might be suffering from diabetic neuropathy, then see the specialists at Central Neurology, P.L. for a consultation. They focus on a variety of neurological conditions, including diabetic neuropathy.