Prevent Complications of Diabetic Neuropathy With Tight Blood Sugar Control
Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage that occurs with diabetes. Approximately half of all people with diabetes have some form of neuropathy. It is more common in people who have had the disease for many years. Tight control of blood sugar can prevent neuropathy from occurring. Those who already have diabetic neuropathy can stop it and prevent it from becoming worse with healthier eating habits, medications and exercise.
Diabetic Neuropathy Causes
In people who have diabetes, their bodies either no longer produce insulin or no longer respond to the insulin that is produced. As a result, blood sugar levels in the body can go dangerously high without proper diet, exercise and medication regulating these levels. When blood sugar levels in the body are consistently high, the excess glucose can damage the nerves throughout the body. As a result, neuropathy occurs. Diabetic neuropathy is most common in the hands and feet; however, it can cause problems with the heart, digestive system, urinary tract and blood vessels.
Diabetic Neuropathy Symptoms
People with diabetic neuropathy can experience different symptoms based on where the nerve damage has occurred. Symptoms include:
- Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet.
- Sharp cramps or pains.
- Being sensitive to touch.
- Muscle weakness.
- Loss of reflexes, such as in the knees or ankles.
- Loss of coordination or balance.
Diabetic Neuropathy Treatment
Treatment always begins with getting blood sugar levels as close to a “normal” range as possible. Diabetics should get their hemoglobin A1C checked every three to six months. Keeping this number at below seven percent will give diabetics the best chance at preventing future neuropathy from occurring and stopping the current nerve damage from progressing. If the patient has high blood pressure, this will also need to be tightly controlled to prevent damage to the heart and blood vessels from progressing.
Though there is no cure for diabetic neuropathy, the pain can be controlled through medications, massages and creams. Anti-seizure medications and antidepressants are sometimes prescribed to patients who haven’t found relief through other medications. These medications can change how the body senses pain and bring relief.
Diabetic Neuropathy Complications
People often first become diagnosed with diabetic neuropathy in the hands or feet. Taking care of the hands and feet to prevent cuts and injuries from occurring is essential to reduce complications. Because of the nerve damage, cuts and infections will take longer to heal.
Those who have nerve damage in other parts of the body, such as the urinary tract or blood vessels, may need to take additional medications in order to prevent complications from occurring. For example, diabetic neuropathy can cause some people to lose the sensation that they need to urinate, which can cause urinary tract infections. Going to the restroom on a regular schedule and taking antibiotics can stop this from occurring. Diabetic neuropathy can sometimes affect sexual health. In this case, medications can be prescribed to help with sexual function in men.
Getting proper treatment and controlling diabetes with a healthy lifestyle is the best way to prevent the complications that may result from diabetic neuropathy. Symptoms can often be controlled, allowing people to go on with their daily activities.