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Diabetic Neuropathy

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Loss of sensation in your feet may be caused by several different factors. However, if you are diabetic, numb or tingling feet may be an indication of nerve damage caused by diabetic neuropathy.

Diabetic neuropathy is a complication of diabetes in which high blood sugar (glucose) levels damage the nerves. Nerve damage may be temporary or permanent and can involve a range of symptoms including foot pain, numbness, muscle weakness, and muscle cramps. Other nerves throughout the body such as those that control bodily functions may also be affected.

Diabetic neuropathy typically occurs 10 to 20 years after you are diagnosed with diabetes. If you are a diabetic and do not have your blood sugar levels well-controlled, you have an increased risk for diabetic neuropathy.

Causes of diabetic neuropathy

Nerve damage associated with diabetic neuropathy is caused by high glucose levels. However, other factors that contribute to the disorder include abnormal blood fat levels, low insulin levels and a genetic predisposition to nerve disease. The risk of diabetic neuropathy increases the longer you have diabetes. However, diabetics who have not kept their blood sugar level under control and those who smoke or consume alcohol are more likely to suffer nerve damage.

Diabetic neuropathy symptoms

Symptoms of diabetic neuropathy affecting the feet include: 

  • Loss of sensation 
  • Tingling 
  • Burning 
  • Pain 
  • Numbness 
  • Muscle weakness 
  • Muscle cramps

The disorder may also affect the nerves that control bodily functions and cause other symptoms including: 

  • Constipation 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Incontinence
  • Difficulty urinating 
  • Dizziness

Treatment of diabetic neuropathy

While there is no cure for diabetic neuropathy, the condition can be managed. Treating diabetic neuropathy begins by controlling blood sugar levels. This can be done by taking insulin and medication as prescribed. It is also important to maintain a healthy weight by eating a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly.

The next step is to treat the symptoms associated with the condition.

Treating pain and muscle weakness

Pain can usually be treated with over-the-counter medication, but anti-depressants may be more effective for sharp pains. Muscle weakness can often be treated by using a splint to support the weakened muscle.

Avoiding infections

Since the feet often become numb as a result of nerve damage, it is important to protect them from injury and check them regularly for cuts or sores. If a sore develops, wash the area and keep it clean to prevent infection. If there are any signs of infection seek medical attention as soon as possible.

It is important for those suffering from diabetes, especially when there are complications such as diabetic neuropathy, to be under the care of a medical professional. Consult your doctor for more information about the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy and the treatment options available.

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