- Diabetic neuropathy is a condition caused by high blood sugar that affects the nerves, resulting in pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness.
- People with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are at risk for developing diabetic neuropathy.
- Poor blood sugar control, high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol levels, and family history can increase the chances of having diabetic neuropathy.
- Treatment options include specialist care, alternative therapies, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), medications, and lifestyle changes.
- It is essential to be aware of the risk factors and take steps to prevent them from occurring or worsening.
Diabetic neuropathy isn’t as common as other forms of diabetes. But it’s still essential to learn about the risk factors that increase the chances of developing the disease. Here’s what you need to know about it and how to deal with it.
Diabetic neuropathy is a condition that occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the nerves of the body. It can affect the nerves of your arms, hands, legs, and feet. It often causes pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the affected areas.
Who is at Risk for Diabetic Neuropathy?
People with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are at risk of developing diabetic neuropathy. This condition affects millions worldwide and can lead to numbness, tingling, and pain in the hands and feet. Here are other risk factors for the disease.
Blood Sugar Management
Poor blood sugar management puts individuals at risk of developing diabetic neuropathy. Individuals with high blood sugar levels cause the nerves not to function properly, leading to nerve damage. High blood sugar levels affect the small blood vessels that supply essential nutrients to the nerves, resulting in damage. Individuals with type 2 diabetes often have a higher risk of neuropathy if they have poor blood sugar control.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is another risk factor for diabetic neuropathy. High blood pressure strains the blood vessels supplying the nerves, leading to nerve damage. Hypertension increases the risk of nerve damage, and individuals with diabetes who have high blood pressure are more likely to develop neuropathy.
Smoking or using tobacco products increases the risk of developing diabetic neuropathy. Nicotine in tobacco affects the small blood vessels that supply nutrients and oxygen to the nerves, leading to nerve damage. Smoking also reduces blood flow, leading to inadequate oxygenation of the nerves and increasing the risk of neuropathy.
High Cholesterol Levels
High cholesterol levels are a risk factor for diabetic neuropathy. High cholesterol levels cause the blood vessels that supply the nerves to narrow, leading to poor nutrient and oxygen flow. Cholesterol blocks the blood vessels limiting the blood flow to the nerves, resulting in nerve damage.
A family history of diabetes and neuropathy is a risk factor for developing diabetic neuropathy. A parent or sibling with diabetes or diabetic neuropathy increases the risk of developing neuropathy. It’s essential to discuss this with your healthcare provider to develop preventive strategies.
There are various treatments for this kind of diabetes. Here are some of them:
Certain types of care cater to specific kinds of diabetes. For diabetic neuropathy, you’ll need an experienced endocrinologist to help you. This kind of doctor specializes in diabetes care and can create a tailored treatment plan to help manage your condition. Make sure to get diagnosed by one before you start going through therapy.
Alternative therapies such as acupuncture, biofeedback, and hypnosis can also effectively manage symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. Acupuncture involves placing temporary needles on specific points in the body to improve blood flow and reduce pain. Biofeedback is a technique that uses electrical sensors to monitor and train the body to control physiological activities such as blood pressure and heart rate. Hypnosis involves inducing a state of relaxation to reduce pain and discomfort.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
TENS is a non-invasive therapy involving electrical stimulation to relieve pain associated with diabetic neuropathy. A small device that emits electrical impulses is placed on the skin over the affected area. The electrical signals block the nerve signals that transmit pain, thus reducing discomfort.
One of the primary treatment options for diabetic neuropathy is medication. Doctors may prescribe pain relievers such as acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen. Other drugs, such as desipramine, duloxetine, and pregabalin, are also effective in managing pain associated with neuropathy. These medications work by blocking the nerve signals that transmit pain, thus reducing the discomfort.
Making lifestyle changes can help to manage diabetic neuropathy. Regular physical exercise can improve blood circulation, which benefits neuropathy patients. Additionally, avoiding alcohol and cigarette smoking, which worsens the symptoms, is crucial. A healthy diet that includes essential vitamins and minerals can also help to reduce pain and inflammation in the affected areas.
Diabetic neuropathy is a serious condition that can lead to severe complications if left untreated. It’s essential to be aware of the risk factors and take steps to prevent them from occurring or worsening. Also, seek medical attention as soon as possible to get proper treatment. The right treatment plan and lifestyle changes to manage diabetic neuropathy can be made more accessible.