diabetic neuropathy

High blood sugar from uncontrolled diabetes damages tissues and organs throughout the body. In diabetic neuropathy, high blood sugar damages the tiny blood vessels that supply nerves all over the body. Up to 70 percent of people with diabetes develop neuropathy. The longer someone has had diabetes, the greater their odds are of developing diabetic neuropathy.

The most common type of diabetic neuropathy, called peripheral neuropathy, affects the legs, feet, arms, and hands. People with peripheral neuropathy often complain of numbness, tingling, or pain in their limbs. The inability to feel pain in the feet increases the likelihood that cuts or sores will go untreated, which can lead to infection. If the infection remains untreated, ultimately tissue will die and the limb may need to be amputated.

Another form of diabetic neuropathy, called autonomic neuropathy, affects nerves of the autonomic nervous system, which control the digestive system, bladder, and sexual organs. Autonomic neuropathy can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, loss of bladder control, and erectile dysfunction. This type of diabetic neuropathy can also affect the nerves that control blood pressure, breathing, and vision.

Focal neuropathy affects nerves in the head and torso. It can lead to vision problems, such as double vision and trouble focusing. Focal neuropathy can also cause pain in the chest, stomach, side, chest, abdomen, front of the thigh, or outside of the shin. Some people develop paralysis on one side of the face, known as Bell?s palsy.

The best way to prevent diabetic neuropathy is with tight blood sugar control. Experts recommend that people with diabetes also have their feet checked regularly for signs of nerve damage. Once diabetic neuropathy is diagnosed, medications such as antidepressants and anticonvulsants can help manage nerve pain.

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