About 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes have some form of neuropathy, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Why the high number? Diabetes makes it difficult for controlling blood sugar levels. Elevated blood sugar levels can result in permanent damage to feet and hand nerves. Damaged nerves struggle to carry messages between the brain and other parts of the body. Nerve damage in diabetics typically manifests after about 25 years of suffering with elevated blood sugars. If you or a loved one is currently battling the effects of diabetic peripheral neuropathy you can benefit from learning more about the following prevention and treatment tips.
When it comes to symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy, it is important to note that not all diabetics may have noticeable symptoms in spite of significant nerve damage. Others–as much as 50 percent of diabetics–may have symptoms such as pain, tingling, or numbness—loss of feeling—in the hands, arms, feet, and legs. Nerve problems can occur in every organ system, including the digestive tract, heart, and sex organs. The American Diabetes Association recommends visiting your doctor annually for a comprehensive exam of your skin, muscles, bones, circulation and feeling in your feet. When it comes to diabetes and diabetic neuropathy, prevention is key.
Your best defense against diabetic neuropathy is a good offense. You have to be proactively planning to keep nerve damage at bay. Is nerve damage inevitable with diabetes? No! Research has shown that diabetics can reduce their risk of nerve damage by striving to keep their blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible. This can be done through diet, exercise, and medications. Research has shown that prevention measures can help prevent the development of diabetic neuropathy in 60% of type-1 diabetics and can decrease the severity of the symptoms associated with the disease.
Again, prevention is key to keeping diabetic peripheral neuropathy at bay. The Mayo Clinic advises the following tips to slow nerve damage:
When it comes to treating diabetic peripheral neuropathy, there are three main goals: 1) to slow the progression of the neuropathy; 2) to offer pain relief; and 3) to restore function and manage complications. Closely monitoring the hands and feet can help to prevent severe issues from occurring. Bringing blood sugar levels back to normal levels is key. Pain can be treated with various methods including: baths, analgesics, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants.
The Mayo Clinic also offers a number of alternative treatments for treating the painful effects of diabetic peripheral neuropathy. They include:
To avoid unnecessary procedures, surgeries or drugs, there are several other avenues you can pursue to get treatment results for your diabetic neuropathy symptoms such as:
Together with your caregiver, you can establish a system of prevention, monitoring and treatment that can help you limit how diabetes affects you or a loved one. Take the steps necessary to fight for the quality of life you deserve!