One of the primary complications in diabetes is a condition called neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy refers to a group of nerve disorders caused by the disease, and is known to affect nerve fibers throughout the body. Hands and feet are the two body parts most commonly affected by neuropathy, however, numbness, tingling, and pain can occur in the arms and legs as well. The longer an individual has diabetes, the greater risk he or she has of developing neuropathy.
Common Causes of Diabetic Neuropathy
Approximately half of the number of people diagnosed with diabetes is inflicted with some type of neuropathy. Diabetics who have had the disease for more than 25 years have the highest risk of developing this condition. Neuropathy also occurs more frequently in those who have had trouble managing glucose levels. Finally, diabetes patients that are over 40 years of ages, and those who carry excess weight are more prone to this complication.
Diabetic neuropathy can be classified in four different forms, peripheral, autonomic, proximal, and focal. Each variety of neuropathy can affect the body in various ways. Peripheral neuropathy can cause discomfort or feeling loss in the hands and arms, in addition to the, feet, toes and legs. Changes in bowel and bladder function, digestion, and sexual reactions are defined as autonomic neuropathy. The third form of the condition, proximal neuropathy, causes pain in the hips, thighs, and buttocks, leading to weakness in the lower extremities. Virtually any body nerve can be affected may the last type of neuropathy. Focal neuropathy induces abrupt weakness in one or a bundle of nerve fibers, which results in both muscle pain and weakness. The causes of neuropathy depend of each distinct form, and nerve damage can occur because of a variety of factors and elements. Neurovascular and autoimmune factors can result in damage to the blood capillaries and cause inflammation in the nerves. Metabolic factors such as higher than normal glucose levels and lower levels of insulin can also contribute to diabetic neuropathy. Lifestyle elements are can affect neuropathy, as well. Alcohol use and smoking are also two factors that can contribute greatly to diabetic neuropathy.
Symptoms are Varied In Diabetic Neuropathy
The types of neuropathy present, and the nerves that are affected, are a contributing aspect to the symptoms involved. Many diabetics have no signs in the beginning, while others experience numbness and pain. Symptoms are very mild in the early stages of the disease, as nerve damage can take several years to develop. Signs and symptoms that do occur include: numbness, pain, and weakness in the upper and lower extremities, stomach problems such as, indigestion, nausea, constipation or diarrhea, dizziness, fatigue, and sexual dysfunction. Because of the physical discomfort that neuropathy can cause, emotional stress can result in depression and weight loss.
Preventing Diabetic Neuropathy
It is possible to prevent diabetic neuropathy by properly controlling your diabetes, and maintaining normal blood glucose levels. Those already affected by this debilitating condition should consult with their physician to devise the best possible care plan.
Foot care is crucial in the average diabetes patient. Every diabetic should make proper foot care a part of their everyday routine. There are a few tips to be taken into consideration when dealing with a foot care plan. First of all, a mild soap should be used to wash the entire foot, even between the toes, and then promptly pat dry. Cracked and dry skin should be repaired by using a moisturizing lotion or cream. Wearing properly fitting shoes and soft socks is a must for the diabetic to keep the feet comfortable and protected. If you noticed any redness, swelling, or wounds on your feet, your physician should be contacted at once. Preventing problems before they arise is a key component in keeping your feet healthy and fit.