Diabetic Neuropathy

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Diabetic neuropathy is a nerve disorders caused by diabetes. The nerves of our body get damaged due to high blood sugar levels from diabetes. The diabetic neuropathy can be diagnosed several years after detecting the diabetes. Many times some people with nerve damage have no symptoms while some may have symptoms like pain, tingling, or numbness-loss of feeling-in the hands, arms, feet, and legs. The diabetic neuropathy can spread over across the body including every organ system like digestive tract, heart, and sex organs.

Causes:

Diabetic neuropathy happens due to decreased blood flow and high blood sugar levels and the chances of developing diabetic neuropathy increases if blood sugar levels are not well controlled. The causes of developing diabetic neuropathy vary from persons to persons. Diabetic neuropathy can be developed by combination of factors:

  • Metabolic factors like high blood glucose, long duration of diabetes, abnormal blood fat levels, and possibly low levels of insulin.
  • Neurovascular factors
  • Autoimmune factors that cause inflammation in nerves.
  • Mechanical injury to nerves like carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • inherited traits that increase susceptibility to nerve disease
  • lifestyle factors, such as smoking or alcohol use

Approximately half of the diabetic patient develops nerve damage. Generally the symptoms of diabetes develop after 10 to 20 years from developing diabetes.

Risks:

Diabetic neuropathy may relatively associate with other diseases that may have common conditions. These are third nerve palsy; mononeuropathy; mononeuropathy multiplex; diabetic amyotrophy; a painful polyneuropathy; autonomic neuropathy; and thoracoabdominal neuropathy.

Symptoms

Symptoms of this problem are:

  • The earlier sign of nerve damage is tingling or burning in the arms and legs.
  • Deep pain, often in the feet and legs
  • Feeling full after taking small quantity of food
  • Trouble in Digestion
  • Heartburn and bloating
  • Nausea, constipation, or diarrhoea
  • Swallowing problems
  • Throwing up food you have eaten a few hours after a meal
  • Nerve damage may cause you to lose feeling in your arms and legs. Because of this you may notice any sensation, touch, pain of the cuts, wound and burns.
  • Sexual problems. Men may have problems with erections. Women may have trouble with vaginal dryness or orgasm.
  • Unable to asses the marginal level of sugar in blood
  • Excessive Sweating even in cold atmosphere

Diabetic neuropathy can also damage the nerves of your heart and blood vessels that can create other problems like feeling light-headed at the time of standing up (Orthostatic hypotension), increased heart rate and unable to notice angina, the chest pain that warns of heart disease and heart attack.

Effect of Diabetic Neuropathy:

Nerve injuries may affect:

  • Nerves in the skull (cranial nerves)
  • Nerves from the spinal column and their branches
  • Nerves that help your body manage vital organs, such as the heart, bladder, stomach, and intestines (called autonomic neuropathy)

Diagnosis

Diabetic neuropathy can be diagnosed by physical examination and some blood tests. The physician verify the following symptoms:

  • Lack of reflexes in the ankle
  • No feeling in the feet when it is rubbed with any round headed instrument like key, brush, comb etc.
  • Changes in the skin
  • The blood pressure suddenly drop when sugar patients stand up after sitting or lying down

Besides these physical examination, doctor also prescribes the following lab tests:

  • Electromyogram (EMG) -- a recording of electrical activity in muscles

  • Nerve conduction velocity tests (NCV) -- a recording of the speed at which signals travel along nerves Complications

If untreated earlier, following complications may occur:

  • Bladder and kidney infections
  • Injury to the feet due to loss of feeling
  • Muscle damage
  • Poor blood sugar control due to nausea and vomiting
  • Skin and soft tissue damage and risk of amputation
  • No knowledge of angina that can cause cardiac arrest and heart failure

Prevention

The sole prevention of avoiding this disease is to strict the blood sugar at its optimum level. Moreover, regular foot care is essential to minimise the hazards of diabetic neuropathy.

Treatment

There are several medicines available in the market that are prescribed by the doctors. Doctors usually prescribe a combination of drugs that control sugar level, enhance digestive system and control stress level and pain.

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