What is Diabetic Neuropathy?
Diabetic neuropathy is a nerve disorders that is caused by diabetes. Over time, diabetes can damage the nerves in the body. This can result in numbness, pain, or weakness in the following parts of the body:
- Hands, arms, feet, and legs
- Organ systems like the heart and lungs
- Sex organs
Usually, it takes a long time for diabetics to develop nerve damage. The longer a person has diabetes, the greater their risk. Other risk factors for developing diabetic neuropathy:
- Being over the age of 40
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Uncontrolled blood sugar levels
What are the Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy?
Symptoms of diabetic neuropathy may develop slowly over time, or they may set in suddenly. Symptoms include:
- Numbness, pain, or tingling in the limbs and extremities
- Loss of muscle in the feet and hands
- Digestive tract issues
- Problems with urination
- Drop in blood pressure causing dizziness
- Erectile dysfunction or vaginal dryness
- Weight loss and depression, although not caused by diabetic neuropathy but often accompany it.
Treatment Options for Diabetic Neuropathy
Treatment methods will vary depending on the area of the body that is affected. For all types of neuropathy, the first step is to get your blood sugar levels under control. At first this may cause your symptoms to increase, but over time they will decrease. Keeping your blood sugar levels under control will also help prevent or delay more symptoms from appearing.
- If the neuropathy affects your feet, you should make sure to take extra care of your feet to avoid amputation.
- Since neuropathy causes numbness, you might not notice cuts or sores until after they become infected.
- Make sure your feet are clean and moisturized and check them for sores every day.
- If your digestive tract is affected by neuropathy, you may experience indigestion, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, or gas. If this is the case, you should eat small meals frequently.
- You may also want to alter your diet depending on your symptoms. Talk to your health practitioner to design a diet that is right for you.
Weakness or Dizziness
- Sometimes people with blood pressure problems due to diabetic neuropathy have problems with dizziness or weakness.
- If you often feel dizzy, you should be extra careful when standing up.
- Talk to your health practitioner, who will be able to help you regulate your blood pressure.
- Many people experience pain from diabetic neuropathy.
- You should talk to your health practitioner to design a pain management program.
- Many people have found that natural treatments like capsaicin cream can help alleviate their pain.
Sexual and Urinary Tract Problems
- Some people who have diabetic neuropathy have decreased sexual function, for example erectile dysfunction or vaginal dryness.
- Talk to your health practitioner if you have erectile dysfunction because there are many treatments available depending on the cause. Vaginal dryness can be overcome by using a personal lubricant.
- If you are incontinent, try to urinate regularly.
If you get a bladder infection, see your health practitioner. Drink plenty of water or cranberry juice to help prevent UTIs.