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Diabetic Neuropathy (Nerves damage of diabetes)

Definition: Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage associated with diabetes. It affects the nerves of the feet, legs and eyes and the nerves that control bodily functions such as digestion, blood pressure and heart rate.

Causes: Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is probably due to a combination of factors, including:

Metabolic syndrome: condition marked by increases in blood pressure, cholesterol, glycemia and weight. The excess weight located in the abdominal region is of special concern.

Damage to blood vessels
Autoimmune factors
Genetics

Risk factors: Diabetic Neuropathy

This condition is more common among older adults.

The factors that can increase the risk of having a diabetic neuropathy are the following:

Have diabetes for 25 years or more
Have type 2 diabetes
High blood pressure
Obesity
Lack of exercise
Peripheral arteriopathy
High cholesterol

Symptom: Diabetic Neuropathy

Symptoms of diabetic neuropathy may include:

Feeling of numbness, tingling or pain in the extremities
Weakness in the arms or legs
Indigestion
Nausea or vomiting
Diarrhea or constipation
Dizziness
Urination problems
Impotence or vaginal dryness
Weakness of facial muscles that causes drooping of the eyelid and mouth, facial paralysis, difficulty swallowing
Muscle cramps
A prolonged feeling of fullness after eating or abdominal pain
Decreased natural ability to sweat

If you have diabetic neuropathy, you have a higher risk of developing other types of neuropathies, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Diabetic neuropathy can cause serious complications, such as ulcers, infection and loss of extremities.

Diagnosis: Diabetic Neuropathy

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. You will have a physical exam. An evaluation of the feet will be made.

You may be tested for nerve functions. This can be done through:

Nerve conduction studies
Electromyography
Quantitative sensory analysis: use of stimuli to detect neuropathy
Quantitative test of the sudomotor axon reflex: test to evaluate the innervation of the sweat glands

They can take pictures of anatomical structures. This can be done through an ultrasound.

You may have tests to evaluate your nerves. This can be done with a biopsy.

Treatment: Diabetic Neuropathy

Ask your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:

Blood Glucose Control

It is important to check your blood glucose levels regularly. You can take them to a normal level thanks to a nutritional planning, exercises or medication.

Foot Care

If you have diabetic neuropathy, you will need special care of the feet. The nerves of the foot are those that are most frequently affected by neuropathy. This care will involve regular visits to a doctor specializing in foot care and to clean, inspect, moisturize and groom your feet meticulously. In addition, the usual use of comfortable shoes and soft, thick and seamless tights will help protect your feet from injury.

Surgery

If the diabetic neuropathy causes you pain, you can undergo nerve decompression surgery to reduce the pain. Talk to your doctor to find out if this is an appropriate option for you.

Other Treatments

Other treatments will depend on your symptoms. Medications may be used to relieve pain, burning, tingling or numbness. Often, the medications used to treat these symptoms are the same as those used to treat seizures and depression.

Another option to treat pain is transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). With this procedure, painless electrical signals are sent to the nerves through the skin with a stimulator. Your doctor may offer this treatment.

Prevention: Diabetic Neuropathy

The best way to prevent diabetic neuropathy is to regularly monitor your blood glucose levels. The doctor can teach you how often you should control the levels and the meaning of the results obtained.

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