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Neuropathy is a common complication of diabetes, affecting both type 1 and type 2 patients. In diabetic neuropathy, damage to the nerves can occur due to long-term high blood sugar levels. This can lead to pain, loss of feeling, and even paralysis. The condition usually develops slowly, but can become more severe over time. Treatment involves managing blood sugar levels, restoring nerve function, medication and therapy.

Diabetic neuropathy can affect any part of the body, causing a variety of symptoms. If you have diabetes, it’s important to regularly check your blood glucose level. You may also need to monitor your nerve function with tests like the nerve conduction velocity(NCV).

What are the different types of diabetic neuropathy?

  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Autonomic neuropathy
  • Focal neuropathy

There are different types of diabetic neuropathy, and each type affects people differently. The most common type of diabetic neuropathy is peripheral neuropathy, which affects the nerves in the hands, feet, and legs. This type of neuropathy can cause tingling, numbness, pain, and burning sensations in these areas. Another type of diabetic neuropathy is autonomic neuropathy, which affects the autonomic nervous system.

This system controls things like heart rate, blood pressure, and digestion. Autonomic neuropathy can cause problems with digestion, heart rate and blood pressure, and sexual function. The last type of diabetic neuropathy is called focal neuropathy. This type affects just one area of the body, such as the eyes or mouth. Focal neuropathy can cause vision problems or problems with speech or swallowing.

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Diabetic Neuropathy and How to Treat

Peripheral neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that affects the nerves that connect the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. The symptoms can vary, but they typically include numbness, tingling, pain, or weakness in one or more fingers or toes. If you have diabetes and notice these early symptoms, you should see your doctor. There’s no cure for peripheral neuropathy, but there are treatments that can help improve your quality of life. Treatment options include medication and therapy.

People with peripheral neuropathy may be more vulnerable to getting injured or getting infections. This is because the nerves that supply the arms and legs can become damaged, and this can make it hard for the person to move their limbs or feel them. In serious cases, this can lead to amputation. There are things that you can do to protect yourself from these types of injuries, but it’s important to know about the risks so that you can take steps to avoid them.

Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy

  • Numbness or reduced ability to feel pain or temperature changes
  • Tingling or burning feeling
  • Sharp pains or cramps
  • Muscle weakness
  • Extreme sensitivity to touch — for some people, even a bedsheet’s weight can be painful
  • Serious foot problems, such as ulcers, infections, and bone and joint damage
Diabetic Neuropathy and How to Treat

Autonomic neuropathy

Autonomic neuropathy is a disorder of the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary actions such as heart rate, digestion, and urination. Autonomic neuropathy may be caused by damage to the autonomic nerves themselves or by damage to the organs they control. The underlying cause of the neuropathy must be identified and treated if possible. Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and improving quality of life.

Symptoms of Autonomic neuropathy

  • A lack of awareness that blood sugar levels are low (hypoglycemia unawareness)
  • Drops in blood pressure when rising from sitting or lying down that may cause dizziness or fainting (orthostatic hypotension)
  • Bladder or bowel problems
  • Slow stomach emptying (gastroparesis), causing nausea, vomiting, sensation of fullness and loss of appetite
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Changes in the way the eyes adjust from light to dark or far to near
  • Increased or decreased sweating
  • Problems with sexual response, such as vaginal dryness in women and erectile dysfunction in men

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Diabetic Neuropathy and How to Treat

Focal neuropathy

Focal neuropathy is a condition that affects the nerves in a specific area of the body. This type of neuropathy can cause weakness, numbness, and pain in the affected area. The cause of focal neuropathy is often unknown, but it may be due to damage to the nerves or blood vessels. Treatment focuses on managing symptoms and may include medications, physical therapy, and surgery.

Symptoms of Focal neuropathy

  • Difficulty focusing or double vision
  • Paralysis on one side of the face
  • Numbness or tingling in the hand or fingers
  • Weakness in the hand that may result in dropping things
  • Pain in the shin or foot
  • Weakness causing difficulty lifting the front part of the foot (foot drop)
  • Pain in the front of the thigh

Lastly, Diabetic neuropathy is a serious complication of diabetes that can lead to nerve damage, foot ulcers, and even amputation. It is important for people with diabetes to be aware of the signs and symptoms of diabetic neuropathy and to seek medical treatment if they experience any of these symptoms. There are treatments available for diabetic neuropathy that can help to improve the patient’s quality of life.

Sources

Dr. M Shahadat Hossain
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