Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Why Diabetes And Neuropathy?

Today's post from neuropathytreatment.co (see link below) looks at the correlation between diabetes and neuropathy.
Although this is a blog mainly aimed at people living with both HIV and neuropathy, because the symptoms tend to be the same for everyone it has many posts of value to everybody living with neuropathy, whatever the cause. This includes diabetic patients (who form the largest group of neuropathy patients. Of course having diabetes or HIV does not preclude your having the other condition as well, or many other conditions that can cause neuropathy. Many diabetes patients ask why neuropathy and diabetes so often go hand in hand. This article goes some way to explaining that simply and clearly and is worth reading for all neuropathy patients. It is worth mentioning that there are other treatment options available than the ones described here - always talk over all the possibilities with your doctor.

Relation between peripheral neuropathy and diabetes
April 29, 2013 by Wesley Milne

Peripheral neuropathy is the term used to describe nerve pain resulting from nerve damage. This nerve pain causes a burning, tingling and numbing sensation in the hands and feet accompanied by sharp jolts of pain that may resemble a pins and needle like sensation. Peripheral neuropathy can sprout from various factors but when the underlying factor is pinpointed as diabetes, the condition takes a different turn and is known as diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

Diabetes and neuropathy go hand in hand:

High blood sugar levels are considered as dangerous for health. Diabetic patients who fail to control their blood sugar levels are often victimized by a series of health disorders. A research showed that 60-70% of all diabetic patients are likely to develop peripheral neuropathy because of:
Their negligence in keeping their blood sugar levels within a normal range
Their long term diabetes exposure
Their suffering from other health disorders (due to diabetes) like coronary heart disease, stroke etc which can cause damaging pressure on the nerves.

How does neuropathy impact other functions of the body?

Our peripheral nerves are the fragile messengers of the body which carry messages to and from the brain and the spinal cord to the rest of the body. The brain and the spinal cord make up the central nervous system and the peripheral nerves constitute the peripheral nervous system which again branches in to autonomic nervous system and sensory nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is the body’s crucial foundation. All the involuntary functions of the body such as indigestion, excretion, circulation, breathing, sexual function etc are regulated by the autonomic nerves. If there is damage done to any part of the autonomic nerves, then the nerves controlling that area start malfunctioning. Symptoms that arise from autonomic nerve injury include: 

Urinary incontinence
Sexual disorders
Digestive disorders such as diarrhea or constipation
Uneven breathing and gasping even with light exercise
Weakness, nausea and fatigue
Severe foot and hand pain
High blood pressure

If the sensory nervous system is damaged, then the motor nerves which control the body movements and muscles and sensory nerves which register sensations like touch, cold, hot, pain etc are affected. Any damage to this functional system will produce the following symptoms: 

Muscle weakness and cramps
Increased or decreased sensitivity
Sleeplessness due to intense pain especially at night time
Inflexibility and trouble walking
Tendency to drop things

How can diabetes and neuropathy be controlled?
Diabetes can be considerably kept in check by keeping a tab on your blood sugar levels, eating medicines on time, adopting a healthy lifestyle, keeping away from unhealthy sugary foods and having regular check-ups. But neuropathy is difficult to control as it is a progressive disease and tends to heighten if acute treatment is not undertaken. Neuropathy patients can control their disease by taking vitamin B supplements, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly, rigidly following the doctor’s specified treatment, quitting alcohol and smoking and keeping their blood sugar levels under reasonable check.

A research showed that if diabetic patients take infinite care in treating and controlling their disease, they can reduce the risk of getting peripheral neuropathy by 99%. Diabetes is not a dire disease but can produce grave effects if not kept under control. Uncontrolled diabetes is also a major cause of leg and hand amputations worldwide today.

Pain management for diabetic neuropathy

A person with diabetes and neuropathy is going to be treated for diabetic neuropathy. The treatment is going to depend on the extent of the damage involved. Early detection in the cases of diabetic neuropathy plays a vital role. Since the feet have the longest nerves, the pain is usually severe in the foot, toes and legs. If the pain is left untreated for a serious length of time, it can lead to painful foot ulcers and even final amputations. Although improving glucose patterns in the blood cannot undo the nerve damage or repair ruined nerve function, it can certainly help to prevent further nerve deterioration and reduce diabetic neuropathy symptoms.

Elimination of alcohol and cigarette smoking, increasing vitamins intake and extensive foot care are all preventive measures for further nerve injury. Diabetic nerve pain can be controlled by taking painkillers and anti depressants. However, if the pain does not subside with mild medications, the doctors will suggest opioids or even surgical intervention. Diabetic neuropathy pain is very rarely eliminated from the body. For most people it is an everyday challenge to live with.

To ensure that you lead a healthy pain free life, you have to start planning today. Take the control of your diabetes, instead of letting it control you. Often diabetic neuropathy creeps inside the human body it cannot be wiped out. The key is prevention instead of finding a cure.


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