Diabetes is a leading cause of neuropathy, which refers to any condition involving the damage or disruption of your nervous system. The nerve damage associated with diabetes typically occurs over a period of time, and you may or may not have symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they will often begin with pain and numbness, a tingling sensation, or even complete loss of feeling in one or more of your limbs or extremities. You can also experience symptoms of diabetic neuropathy in your digestive system, your circulatory system, and your reproductive system.
Not all diabetic patients will experience a neuropathic condition, but the majority will. The longer that a person suffers from diabetes and the older the person is, the greater their risk of some form of nerve damage. If you have had diabetes for twenty-five years or more, you are at the greatest risk of developing neuropathy. Further, the more you struggle to control the blood glucose levels in your body, the greater your risk will be. You are also at greater risk if you are overweight, and if you have high blood pressure.
Why Does Diabetes Cause Neuropathy?
The primary reason that diabetes causes neuropathy is because a high blood glucose level and a low insulin level can cause nerve damage. The longer that these issues are present, the more likely the nerves are to be damaged and the more serious the damage is likely to be. Further, diabetes can cause the neurovascular system, including your blood vessels, to be damaged, so that your nerves do receive the necessary oxygen and nutrients to function properly. If your nerves are inflamed, then this too can cause damage. Further, diabetic patients are at greater risk of other issues that cause nerve damage, such as mechanical nerve injuries and unhealthy habits, like smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol.
What Different Symptoms Might You Experience in Diabetic Neuropathy?
We have already mentioned some of the most frequently seen diabetic neuropathy symptoms, which include pain,
numbness, and tingling. However, there are many other symptoms that you might also experience, depending on the type of neuropathy that you suffer from. There are even many cases where a patient has nerve damage without symptoms. Some of the different types of neuropathy that you might have from diabetes include sensory neuropathy, motor neuropathy, and autonomic neuropathy. With sensory neuropathy, your senses are affected, and you may end up going blind or deaf, for example. With motor neuropathy, your motor skills and ability to purposefully move are affected. With autonomic neuropathy, your unconscious or automatic functions are affected, and you may suffer from issues in your digestive system, your reproductive system, or your respiratory system, for example.
Some of the most frequently seen symptoms of diabetic neuropathy include the aforementioned numbness, tingling, and pain in the extremities. They also include gastrointestinal symptoms, like nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting. Then, there are the urinary tract symptoms, such as painful or difficult urination. The reproductive system can experience symptoms like vaginal dryness in women or erectile dysfunction in men. Further, the muscles may become weak and you may experience significant pain. For many, all of these symptoms will result in additional symptoms, like depression.
How Can You Relieve Your Diabetic Neuropathy Symptoms?
It is essential to address the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy to keep them from growing worse and to minimize the damaging affect that they can have on your life. For many people, this means taking medication for pain relief and for the various symptoms that occur from the associated nerve damage. For some, this may also require treatment for psychological issues, like depression, which can come along with the pain and weakness.
When it comes to medication treatment for diabetic neuropathy, the most commonly prescribed options include antidepressants, anticonvulsants, opioids, and medications like Duloxetine and Pregabalin. It is important to understand that antidepressants are not just useful in fighting depression. You may get an antidepressant prescription to help you manage diabetic nerve pain even if you don’t have depression, because they can also relieve pain. While many people will also take over the counter medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, for most sufferers of diabetic neuropathy, this is not enough to help. Further, overuse of such medication can cause even more problems, so your doctor may discourage them.
Some diabetic neuropathy patients will also find relief in topical skin ointments, such as patches, sprays, and creams that are designed to ease the pain of disrupted nerve functioning. Then, there are various alternative treatments, like acupuncture, electrical nerve stimulation, magnetic therapy, light therapy, and biofeedback. Many patients will benefit from physical therapy, and some will require special medical devices to manage symptoms.
If you suffer from problems with your digestive system due to diabetic neuropathy, then you might make changes in your diet to address them or take certain medications that are intended to relieve nausea, improve and speed digestion, or minimize stomach acids. You might find relief by eating smaller meals more frequently, minimizing your fiber intake, and avoiding foods that contain a lot of fat. This can relieve symptoms of indigestion, nausea, and vomiting.
If you experience a lot of dizziness, light headedness, fainting, or weakness in your muscles, then you may be suffering from circulatory system problems. You might need to work on lowering your blood pressure. Making sure to move slowly from a sitting or standing position can help in the moment, and when you feel faint or light headed, sitting down and putting your head between your knees may bring some relief.
Another treatment option that many people aren’t aware of is chiropractic care. This is not a cure, and it may not be your only form of treatment response to diabetic neuropathy, but it can make a great difference in managing the symptoms and improving your quality of life. Contact the Chiropractic Health Center in Greenville, South Carolina to find out how we can help.