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Why does diabetes cause neuropathy?

Diabetic neuropathy is mainly a type of nerve damage that might occur if you suffer from diabetes. High blood sugar might harm the nerves present throughout the body.

You need to know that diabetic neuropathy is often responsible for damaging nerves present in the legs as well as feet. In type 1 and type 2 diabetes patients, diabetic neuropathy is considered the most serious and common complication.

Long-term high blood sugar levels are responsible for causing nerve damage. This condition mainly develops slowly and sometimes after several years. In case, you have diabetes and experience numbness, pain, tingling, or weakness in your feet or hands then contact the doctor immediately.

These are some early symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. The danger is mainly when you are not able to feel pain and an ulcer develops on your foot. In case of serious or prolonged peripheral neuropathy, you might be exposed to infections or injuries.

Diabetic neuropathy is a severe diabetes complication that might affect almost 50% of people suffering from diabetes. However, you can prevent diabetic neuropathy or slow down its progress with constant blood sugar management as well as a healthy lifestyle.

Symptoms of diabetic neuropathy

It is very common for symptoms of neuropathy to appear slowly. In several cases, the first type of nerve damage to occur usually involves the nerves of your feet. However, this further leads to the symptoms of painful “pins and needles” in the feet.

Depending upon the areas affected, your symptoms might vary. Some of the common symptoms of diabetic neuropathy include:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Numbness or pain in your feet or hands
  • Loss of sense of touch
  • Difficulty with coordination when walking
  • Vomiting, nausea, or indigestion
  • Burning sensation in feet, mainly at night
  • Bloating or fullness
  • Muscle weakness or wasting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Vision trouble like double vision
  • Inability to sense low blood glucose

Types of diabetic neuropathy

In people with diabetes, there are four different types of diabetic neuropathy:

Peripheral neuropathy

When it comes to neuropathy, peripheral neuropathy is the most common form. Peripheral neuropathy often affects your feet and legs, but at the same time, it can also affect your hands or arms. However, the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy can differ and can be mild to serious.

Some of the common symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include:

  • Numbness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tingling or burning sensations

Autonomic neuropathy

The second most common type of neuropathy in people suffering from diabetes is autonomic neuropathy. The autonomic nervous system runs other systems in your body over which you do not have conscious control. Several organs and muscles are controlled by it, including your:

  • Sweat glands
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Digestive system
  • Sexual organs and bladder

Proximal neuropathy

A rare form of neuropathy is proximal neuropathy which is also called diabetic amyotrophy. This form of neuropathy is often seen in adults above 50 years of age with fairly well-controlled type 2 diabetes.

This type of neuropathy often affects your thighs, hips, or buttocks. You might even experience sudden and severe pain sometimes. Muscle weakness in your legs can make it difficult for you to even stand up without the help of another person. Proximal neuropathy often affects one side of your body. 

After the onset of symptoms, they mainly get worse and then start to improve gradually. However, a number of people recover within a few years without the need for treatment.

Focal neuropathy

Focal neuropathy occurs when one specific nerve or group of nerves gets damaged, causing weakness in your affected area. This mainly occurs in your leg, hand, torso, or head. Focal neuropathy occurs suddenly and is very painful at the same time.

Just like proximal neuropathy, most focal neuropathies go away in just a few weeks or months and there is no lasting damage as well. The most common type of focal neuropathy is carpal tunnel syndrome.

Some of the symptoms of focal neuropathy include double vision, tingling in fingers, aching behind the eyes, inability to focus, etc.

Therefore, there is no cure for diabetic neuropathy, but you can definitely slow down its progression by keeping your blood sugar levels within a healthy range.