Diabetic neuropathy is a kind of nerve damage observed in patients with diabetes. High blood sugar can negatively affect the nerves throughout the body, leading to many different complications. The most common form of diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage in the legs and feet. Depending on the severity of one’s condition, a patient may experience pain and numbness in their legs and feet to other problems with digestion, excretion, and the heart and blood vessels’ deterioration. Diabetic neuropathy is relatively common among people with diabetes. As much as 50% of diabetic people suffer from diabetic neuropathy. In many patients, the symptoms may be mild to non-existent, but based on the severity of the condition, some patients may find it excruciatingly painful and debilitating.
Diabetic neuropathy is well documented and can be divided into four types:
- Peripheral neuropathy
- This is the most common form of diabetic neuropathy. It usually affects the legs first, then followed by the arms. These symptoms are often worsened at night, where patients experience numbness, tingling, and a burning sensation. They may experience a reduction in their ability to feel pain and changes in temperature. Patients often have sharp pains and cramps, too. Some people will experience an increased sensitivity to touch; even a bedsheet’s weight may feel painful. Patients also have severe foot problems, including ulcers, infections, and pain in the bones and joints.
- Autonomic neuropathy
- The autonomic nervous system is responsible for the function of the heart, bladder, stomach, eyes, and sexual organs. Thus, patients suffering from autonomic neuropathy may experience bladder and bowel dysfunction. They may also have slower digestion, leading to nausea and loss of appetite. Patients also have difficulty seeing as their eyes fail to adapt adequately to changes in brightness. Patients also show signs of sexual dysfunction.
- Proximal neuropathy
- This kind of neuropathy only affects the thighs, buttocks, legs, and hips. Patients may have to endure severe pain in these body parts, weakening their thigh muscles and difficulty getting up. Proximal neuropathy may also affect the abdominal and chest area, leading to difficulty breathing and stomach pain.
- This can lead to difficulty in blurred vision and double sight. Patients experience aching in one eye and may also suffer from paralysis of one side of the face, aka Bell’s Palsy. Patients also have numbness and tingling in the hands and fingers, leading to reduced motor control and weakening in the hand.
If you’re someone who has diabetes and experiencing any of the symptoms described above, please consider calling your doctor. If you have a cut or sore on your feet that won’t heal or is infected, you may have diabetic neuropathy. The sooner the condition is diagnosed, the less pain the patient has to suffer. Adequate treatment can help solve some of the underlying issues of diabetic neuropathy, improving the quality of life.