Diabetes neuropathy is a nerve disorder caused by diabetes.

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Diabetes neuropathy is a serious nerve disorder that over time, will cause painful damage to the nerves throughout the body. Because this condition is caused by diabetes, means that individuals diagnosed with this chronic disease can develop nerve problems at any time.

Diabetic neuropathy could be brought on much earlier if an individual's diabetes management is carried out poorly. There are about 17 million people diagnosed with diabetes and out of this number, there is an estimated 50% of these individuals that have diabetes neuropathy.

Who is at risk of developing diabetes neuropathy

Nerve damage is more commonly diagnosed in people that have had diabetes for more than 25 years but not all of them will show the symptoms for the disorder. Individuals that are at high risk of developing diabetic neuropathy, are the ones that:

  • Have difficulties in controlling their blood glucoselevels
  • Have high blood fats levels (triglycerides)
  • high blood pressure
  • Have weight loss issues (overweight or obese)
  • Are over the age of 39

Risk factors that may lead to diabetes neuropathy!

There are different types of diabetes neuropathy and the causes can be a little different for each one. There is a study that is presently being conducted by researchers that may determine exactly how prolonged exposure to high blood glucose can cause neuropathy.

Developing this nerve disorder may be due to a combination of risk factors that a diabetic person may have. These risk factors may be related too:

  • Metabolic issues.
  • That include high blood glucose levels, having diabetes for a long time, potentially low levels of the insulin hormone, and high blood fat levels(triglycerides).

  • Neurovascular problems.
  • That lead to possible damage to many of the tiny blood vessels, that supply the nerves with oxygen and nutrients.

  • Autoimmune problems.
  • Which lead to inflammation in the walls of the nerves. An example of this is carpal tunnel syndrome.

  • Family history.
  • Which may increase a diabetics' chance of developing diabetes neuropathy.

  • Poor lifestyles.
  • Habits that include smoking and alcohol consumption.

What are the different types of diabetes neuropathy

As I mentioned earlier, neuropathy is a nerve disorder and it affects the human body in different ways. There are four different types of this nerve disorder that is medically known to us. They include:

  • Peripheral Neuropathy.
  • This type of nerve damaging disorder affects the nerves that supply oxygen and nutrients to parts of the body that include the toes, feet, legs, and hands.

    Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy may also include problems like insensitivity to pain or temperature. In some cases numbness can be experienced in some parts of the body as well. Sensations that may be of a burning, or tingling type, sharp cramps or sharp pains, sensitivity to light touch which may be extreme, and very poor coordination and uncontrolled balance.

  • Proximal neuropathy.
  • This form of diabetes neuropathy is also referred to by other names such as lumbosacral plexus neuropathy, femoral neuropathy, or diabetic amyotrophy. Symptoms of this type of nerve disorder is usually indicated by pain in the thighs, hips, and legs.

    Proximal neuropathy is more commonly diagnosed in individuals that have type 2 diabetes as well as older adults. Symptoms usually starts on one side of the body. This type of nerve damaging disorder will cause weakness in the legs of diabetics and is usually indicated by their inability to go from a sitting position to a standing one, without the help of some else.

  • Autoimmune neuropathy.
  • This type of neuropathy affects the nerves that are responsible for controlling the heart muscle, regulating the high blood pressure, and controlling the blood glucose level.

    Diabetics that have autoimmune neuropathy may not show any symptoms which can lead to difficulties in recognizing any possible signs of hypoglycemia. Parts of the body that this nerve damaging disorder affects include the heart and blood vessels, the digestive system, the urinary track, the sex organs (erectile dysfunction), the sweat glands, and the eyes,

  • Focal neuropathy.
  • With this particular nerve disorder, the affects are usually sudden and it occurs on occasion. Whenever it happens, the nerve damage are usually specific in that it affects the nerves in areas such as the head, torso, or leg.

    Focal neuropathy is also a painful unpredictable disorder that is more commonly diagnosed in older diabetics but overtime, this condition may improve on its own. Usually in a few weeks or a few months. The only good thing about having this form of nerve disorder, is that it does not cause any long term damage.

    Symptoms of focal neuropathy may include problems like...a diabetic person inability to focus their eyes, double vision problems, pain behind one eye, bell's palsy (paralysis of one side of the face), severe pain in both the lower back and pelvis areas, pain in the front part of the thigh, pain on the inside of the foot or on the outside part of the shin, pain in the chest or abdomen that may look like the symptoms of heart disease, a heart attack, or an appendicitis.

As we can see, symptoms of diabetes neuropathy really depends on which type of neuropathy you may have and which particular nerves are being affected. There are, however two symptoms that may show up but are in no related to diabetes neuropathy. These include weight loss and depression

Diagnosing diabetes neuropathy

Doctors usually diagnosed this nerve disorder with a physical exam, base on the symptoms that the individual may have. During the physical examination, a few factors are taken into account. These include the individual's:

  • Blood pressure
  • Heart rate
  • Their reflexes
  • Their sensitivity in different positions
  • Their sensitivity to temperature and vibrations

Test procedures used in determining diabetes neuropathy

During the physical examination, a doctor may recommend several test procedures that will help him or her determined the type and the extent of the nerve damage that an individual might have. These test procedures involve:

  • Foot inspections.
  • During this inspection, a doctor will check for proper blood circulation and using a nylon monofilament, check the sensation of a diabetics' foot. If a diabetic does not have any sensation left in their foot, then they will be at a greater risk of developing diabetic sores that may fail to heal properly.

    This means that they have lost the protective sensation for their feet.

  • Nerve conduction test.
  • With this particular test, the electrical current that passes through a nerve is checked. The test produces an image onto a screen where it can be examined by a the doctor. If there are any impulses in any of the nerves that seem to move slower or weaker than others, this is usually an indication of possible nerve damage.

    From this conduction test, a doctor can assess all the nerves in the arms and legs for diabetes neuropathy.

  • Electromyography.
  • An EMG test, helps your doctor to determine the level of muscle responsiveness to the electrical current or signals that are being transmitted by the nerves nearby. This test is usually done at the same time as the nerve conduction test and is also displayed on a screen for viewing by the doctor.

    Just like the nerve conduction test, if the muscle response is a bit slow or weaker than normal, then this could be a possible sign that the individual may have nerve or muscle damage.

  • Quantitative sensory test (QST).
  • This type of diabetes neuropathy test, checks a diabetic person response to certain stimuli. Here the doctor checks for indication of nerve damage by an individual's response to pressure, vibration, and temperature.

    This is a test procedure that is gaining popularity when it comes to checking the sensation an irritability of an individual's nerves.

  • Heart rate check.
  • With this test a diabetic patient's heart is checked for any irregularities that can give indications of how their heart is actually responding to deep breathing, to changes in positioning and to changes in their blood pressure.

  • Ultrasound test.
  • This test involves the use of sound waves that produces an image of the internal organs. With the use of this test, doctors are able to view images of organs such as the bladder and certain areas of the urinary track to see if they are functioning properly.

  • Biopsy.
  • In this test, a biopsy of either the nerve or skin is carried out. This involves moving a sample of the nerve or skin which is then examine more closely under a microscope. This diabetes neuropathy test is normally conducted or used in a research setting.

Treating diabetes neuropathy

Treatment can be some what difficult for some diabetics when it comes to treatment of diabetes neuropathy; however, it has to be done, in order for them to avoid serious complications. The first course of action for treating nerve damage, is bring your blood glucose level down. This is achieve by carrying out...

As you cn see, maintaining a safe blood glucose level, is the key to minimizing diabetes neuropathy symptoms and preventing or delaying any further diabetes complications.

How to prevent diabetes neuropathies

As mentioned above, preventing diabetes neuropathy is based on you as a diabetic individual maintaining your blood glucose at a safe level or as close to it as possible.

Proper blood glucose monitoring will help all diabetics to avoid many serious complications that are associated with diabetes. Proper diabetes management will help diabetics that have had diabetes for a while, avoid or delay any possible nerve damage throughout their body. A condition otherwise known as diabetes neuropathy.

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