The link between diabetes and neuropathy has been the topic of dozens of studies in the past years. If you have recently been diagnosed with neuropathy and also have diabetes, you may be wondering why this caused your new condition. Today we’re going to discover how diabetes causes neuropathy and what you can do to minimize your chance of neuropathy as someone with diabetes.
When we speak about neuropathy within diabetic patients, we are generally referring to diabetic neuropathy. This is a type of nerve damage that occurs as a result of diabetes. The high blood sugar levels your body experiences on a daily basis can go ahead and injure the nerves in your body. Most commonly, this impacts the legs and feet, but you may find you are impacted in a more severe way all over your body. The severity of the condition will depend on your personal situation as well. For some people, this is just pain or numbness in the legs and feet. However, for others, this can include issues with the digestive system, heart, and blood vessels. While many people only have mild symptoms, other people find their life is completely turned upside down as a result of diabetic neuropathy.
It’s believed that diabetic neuropathy impacts roughly 50% of people with diabetes. The good news is that there are various things you can do to help prevent this condition in the future if you are not already diagnosed with it. By focusing on maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle and monitoring your blood sugar levels, you can reduce the chance of nerve pain in the future.
The Common Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy
Diabetic neuropathy generally affects the bottom half of the body, however, this may spread to the abdominal muscles and chest. You’ll find that the majority of patients with this type of neuropathy have one side that experiences more issues than the other. It may then spread to the other side, but this will vary depending on the severity of your condition. The pain might be more severe in the hip, buttock, or thigh, which means it can be difficult sitting down. In the long run, patients see that their thigh muscle shrinks or becomes weaker. They might also experience severe stomach pain, which can make doing even the most basic of tasks feel impossible.
The Causes of Neuropathy Within Diabetic Patients
The cause of neuropathy is an area of much mystery still, but with more research into diabetes and neuropathy, we are starting to see some clear links between the two conditions. It’s believed that when high blood sugar levels are left uncontrolled for a long period of time, this damages the nerves. It stops them from being able to send signals around your body, which leads to neuropathy. You’ll find that the nerves also receive less oxygen and fewer nutrients as a result of diabetes. This is due to the fact that high blood sugar weakens the walls of the capillaries, which transport both of these around the body.
Risk Factors for Neuropathy If You Have Diabetes
If you have diabetes, you are already at quite a high risk of developing neuropathy in the future. However, there are certain risk factors that make the probability of having this condition more likely. By controlling these areas, you’ll find that you have a better chance of enjoying a good quality of life without nerve pain in the future. Poor blood sugar control is something any diabetic patient needs to avoid. This can cause many health complications, with neuropathy being one of the most common issues. The longer you’ve had diabetes, the more likely you’ll develop neuropathy. The exception to this is if you are very good at controlling your blood sugar levels, as it may not have impacted your nerves even over a long period of time.
Many individuals with diabetes discover they have kidney damage or disease later on in life. This then leaks toxins into the blood, which can result in neuropathy. Two of the areas which you can control as a diabetic are your weight and whether you smoke or not. If your BMI is over 25, there’s a much higher chance of your developing neuropathy. Smoking is also one of the worst things you can do as someone with diabetes. This works to harden the arteries, which reduces the amount of blood that flows down to your feet and legs. When wounds in this area aren’t able to heal, this can cause more damage to your nerves and result in neuropathy.
To help treat neuropathy, diabetic patients will want to ensure they are taking good care of their feet. Any foot problems that don’t heal might lead to severe neuropathy and other complications. Try to inspect your feet every day, and look out for any swelling or blisters. Make sure you clean them with mild soap and moisturize your feet to avoid cracking. Your toenails also need to be well taken care of. You’ll want to protect your feet and toes with clean socks, which can help to avoid hygiene issues in this area. If you notice any changes in this part of your body, you’ll want to ensure you receive treatment straight away. This is one area we notice many side effects as a result of diabetic neuropathy and can really impact your overall life in the future.
There’s a clear link between diabetes and neuropathy, which is why we encourage anyone with diabetes to work to control their blood sugar levels to the best of their ability. As you can see, by avoiding certain triggers for this condition, you’ll have a better chance of living a long and healthy life without nerve pain. If you do find you experience nerve pain in the future, always try to seek treatment as soon as possible. The sooner you can find a way to manage your pain, the more likely you’ll be able to continue your everyday activities without too much disruption in the future.