Diabetic neuropathy is a serious condition that cannot be avoided. It has affected over 20 million people in the world and can result in serious, long-lasting effects. That’s why it’s important to use diabetic neuropathy treatment to protect your body from further harm.
What is Diabetic Neuropathy?
Neuropathy is a medical term used to describe issues occurring within the nervous system. It usually occurs in the peripheral nerves as opposed to the ‘central nervous system”. Here are the most common nerves that are affected when someone is diagnosed with neuropathy
- Sensory Nerves (controls sensations)– cause pain, numbness, weakness, tingling, and pain in the hands and feet.
- Motor Nerves (nerves that allow movement and power) – cause weaknesses in your hands and feet.
- Automatic Nerves (nerves that control the system of your body, e.g., bladder and gut) – Causes changes in the heart rate, blood pressure, and sweating.
Diabetic neuropathy is a disease that occurs in over 60-70% of people with diabetes. But, the symptoms take over 10 to 20 years to develop fully. The largest rates of neuropathy are found in patients that have been diagnosed with diabetes for over 25 years.
It’s a progressive disease where the system can worsen over time. People who struggle with their blood sugar levels and those with high blood cholesterol are more susceptible.
If you have diabetes and are experiencing pain, weakness, or numbness in your body, call your doctor. These are early symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. In some severe cases, you might experience infections or injuries in your extremities.
That’s why it’s important to frequently monitor your blood sugar levels and contact your doctor if you are showing signs of neuropathy.
What Causes Diabetic Neuropathy?
There are multiple causes of diabetic neuropathy. For instance, overexposure to blood sugar can damage fragile nerve fibers, which causes diabetic neuropathy. Why this occurs isn’t clear, but a combination of factors will play a role. This includes the complex interaction between the blood vessels and the nerves.
- High blood glucose intervenes with the ability of your nerves to transmit signals. Also, it weakens the walls of your small blood vessels that supply with nutrients and oxygen.
- Genetic factors that are unrelated to diabetes that make certain people vulnerable to nerve damage.
- Alcohol abuse and smoking can damage both your blood vessels and nerves and can greatly increase the rate of infections
- Nerve inflammation is caused by an autoimmune response. It occurs when your immune system attacks a part of your body as if it was a foreign organism.
Types of Diabetic Neuropathy and Their Symptoms
There are four distinct types of diabetic neuropathy. Chances are you might have one or more of these types, and keep in mind that many of them develop over time. Unfortunately, this means that you might not even notice any problems until a considerable amount of damage has occurred.
Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
This is the most widely known out of the four diabetic neuropathy types. Your “peripheral” limbs are affected: first, your legs and feet, followed by the arms and hands. Peripheral neuropathy symptoms often occur during the evening and might include:
- Loss of coordination and balance
- Muscle pain
- Sharp cramps or pains
- Increased touch sensitivity
- Reflex losses
Diabetic Autonomic Neuropathy
Your autonomic system is a powerhouse that controls the lungs, heart, bladder, stomach, eyes, and sex organs. Diabetes affects the nerves in each area and can cause:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Sexual difficulties & vaginal dryness
- Increased heart rate
- Inability to adjust your blood pressure
Most radiculoplexus neuropathy symptoms are commonly found on one part of your body, although in rare cases, they will spread throughout the body.
This medical condition is marked by:
- Weak muscles
- Problems arise from sitting positions
- Abdominal swelling
Mononeuropathy refers to damage occurring in one single nerve. It can be the leg, torso, or face. Although it causes severe pain, this condition doesn’t have long-term ailments. The symptoms tend to disappear within a few months.
A few symptoms of mononeuropathy are:
- Thigh pain
- Lower back & pelvis pain
- Chest & Abdomen pain
When to Seek Medical Help
Diabetic neuropathy is not something you want to conquer on your own. Seek medical assistance right away if you start to notice:
- Weakness in your feet or hands that interferes with your sleep or daily routine
- Changes in urination, sexual function, or digestion
- A sore on your foot that’s not showing signs of healing, or is infected
While these symptoms don’t directly indicate diabetic neuropathy pain, they might signal additional issues that will need medical intervention. Early medical treatment is the single best way to control your symptoms and to have the best shot at preventing life-long problems.
Even the smallest of sores on your feet will become ulcers if left unattended. In some rare cases, foot ulcers might become very dangerous. Worst-case scenarios include surgery or even amputation, so don’t let these go!
How is Diabetic Neuropathy Treated?
Fortunately, there are numerous methods that are used to treat diabetic neuropathy symptoms. Each of them is natural and provides a gradual and safe way to work toward getting your body back to normal.
Here are some starter methods that serve as a great treatment for diabetic neuropathy:
- Blood sugar control
- Stop smoking
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Practice relaxation techniques
- Pain relievers
- Skin protection
When you don’t monitor your diabetes, the blood glucose levels in your body start to increase. Over time, this excessive blood sugar starts to damage the peripheral nerves. These nerves connect to the brain and other parts of your body. People who forget to control their blood sugar are more likely to receive diabetic neuropathy.
Blood Sugar and Diabetic Neuropathy
If you keep the blood sugar at a range of 7% or lower, you reduce the chances of nerve damage by 60%. Having a healthy blood sugar level slows the process and eases pain caused by diabetic neuropathy.
Here are a few tips to keep blood sugar levels in check:
- Exercise 5 days a week for a minimum of 30 minutes.
- Take prescribed medication for blood sugar.
- Have a diet that’s high in low-fat dairy, vegetables, fruits, and has a moderate amount of nuts, beans, and fish, and is low on red meat.
- Follow your doctor’s instructions
Smoking and Diabetic Neuropathy
Smoking constricts your blood circulation. It does this by constricting the blood vessels, making it harder for the blood to transfer to the body. This leads to your peripheral nerves having less nutrient-rich blood than usual. Because of this, your body will start to experience more pain.
Work as hard as you can to stop or at least reduce smoking. See your doctor for smoking cessation aids and techniques.
The Importance of a Healthy Diet and Diabetic Neuropathy
Your diet is the main factor that determines blood sugar levels. Focus on eating unprocessed foods and lower your carb intake, including food and beverages that are high in sugar.
There are a few simple ways to improve your diet immediately. Replace drinks such as soda with water and herbal tea. Additionally, keep your diet filled with healthy proteins and non-saturated fats instead of refined carbohydrates.
Try to include high-fiber foods in your diet. Most of them are high in nutrients but don’t contain sugars that could tamper with blood sugar levels.
Some high-fiber foods include:
- Lean proteins: pasture-raised chicken, grass-fed beef, and sprouted beans are great source of lean protein.
- Fish: Fish caught in the wild is high in omega-3 fatty acids. These acids help by lowering proteins and triglycerides that may cause diabetic issues.
- Vegetables and fruits: These staples are usually high in antioxidants, vitamins, and electrolytes such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Relaxation Techniques and Diabetic Neuropathy
Diabetic neuropathy is often correlated with depression and anxiety. Both can worsen the condition, making it harder for your body to function normally. Make sure to talk to your doctor if you experience any of these issues.
Try these techniques to help monitor and reduce your stress levels:
- Relaxation Techniques: yoga, massage, meditation, and visualization.
- Biofeedback: With this method, a machine monitors your heart rate, body temperature, and brain waves. Using biofeedback helps you control your body’s response to stress or other symptoms.
Pain Relievers and Diabetic Neuropathy
Pain relievers such as aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen can alleviate mild to moderate levels of diabetic neuropathy. Speak with your physician if you plan on taking them often. Some of these drugs might increase the chance of stroke or heart attack.
Every day, our skin is exposed to tons of germs that could trigger diabetic neuropathy. You should monitor any symptoms and see if there are any signs of nerve damage in all areas of your body. Also, wash your skin and feet daily to prevent moisture and bacteria from causing further infections.
The clothes you wear can play a huge part in reducing further damage. Wear socks and protective clothing and keep your delicate skin away from the sun. If you notice any redness in your skin, speak to your doctor to help alleviate the problem.
Understand Your Needs
It’s important to know everything about your medical condition. This allows you to optimize which of these products will work best for you. For example, if you find it hard to walk, a pair of diabetic neuropathy socks and will help treat this ailment immediately. Once you have figured out what you need to treat your condition, pick one of the products whose features offer the most utility. This ensures that you are investing in the right set of tools to stop further pain and treat diabetic neuropathy.
This saves you time and stops further health issues. The more you neglect your diabetic neuropathy, the higher the chance you’ll expose yourself to more severe ailments. Consulting with a physician is one way to get expert advice on fully healing your body.
Consult with Your Physician
Before taking action, we suggest talking to your physician. Talking to your physician about your condition is the first step to proper treatment.