What is diabetic neuropathy?

Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that happens in people who have diabetes. This damage makes it hard for their nerves to carry messages to the brain and other parts of the body. It can cause numbness (loss of feeling) or painful tingling in parts of the body.

What causes diabetic neuropathy?

Nerve damage occurs in people who have had diabetes because their blood sugar level is higher than normal. Over time, high blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels and nerves. That’s why people who don’t control (or can’t control) their blood sugar very well seem more likely to get diabetic neuropathy. Men have diabetic neuropathy more often than women.

The following are symptoms of diabetic neuropathy?

  • Numbness or pins and needles in your feet and toes
  • Pain or a burning feeling in your legs and / or feet
  • Cuts and sores on your feet don’t hurt as much as you would expect them to
  • Loss of muscle strength
  • Loss of reflexes
  • Collapse of the arch without any pain symptoms

If diabetic neuropathy has damaged the nerves in your legs and feet, you may not be able to feel pain in those parts of your body. This is a problem because pain can be a useful signal. If you have no feeling in your feet, you could have an injury and not know it. In addition, your muscles might atrophy (decrease in size), causing you to have trouble walking. The skin on your feet might crack and develop sores. If these sores get much worse and become infected, you might have to go to the hospital, or possibly have your foot amputated (removed). Because diabetes makes it harder for an injury to heal, it’s important to take good care of your feet.

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For those with Diabetic neuropathy who want to learn more, click here to check out this fantastic book on coping with neuropathy

What can I do to avoid diabetic neuropathy?

The most important thing is to keep your blood sugar under control. Take your medicines just the way your doctor tells you to. Eat a variety of healthy foods and avoid foods that are high in fat and sugar. If you are overweight, ask your doctor to help you lose weight. Exercise 4 to 6 times a week for 30 to 60 minutes at a time. Before starting an exercise program, talk to your doctor.

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