Diabetes is a disease that affects many major organs and systems in the body. In particular, complications resulting from diabetes can result in nerve damage. In fact, diabetes is known as one of the leading causes of nerve damage worldwide. This is a condition known as diabetic neuropathy.
What is Diabetic Neuropathy?
Diabetic neuropathy can severely affect a person’s quality of life, which is the reason why one common question is “Can diabetic neuropathy be reversed?”
But before we get to that, let us first try to understand what diabetic neuropathy is, and the effects it has on the body.
Diabetic neuropathy is a condition that affects a person’s nerves. This is a very common, yet serious complication of diabetes, and some form of it affects about 50% of diabetics. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can cause diabetic neuropathy.
Nerve damage caused by diabetes can be categorized into three types:
- Autonomic neuropathy or the nerves that control the autonomic nervous system are affected. The autonomic nervous system controls involuntary actions, such as the beating of the heart, breathing, etc.
- Motor neuropathy affects the movement of muscles, such as those in the arms or legs.
- Sensory neuropathy affects a person’s sense of touch, and how they sense temperature. This usually affects a person’s arms or legs.
Over time, the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy can worsen, and a person can suffer from any combination of the types above. This is why it is important to take steps early on in order to prevent this from happening.
What Causes This Condition to Happen?
It is believed that diabetic neuropathy happens as a result of high sugar levels in the blood. If the nerves are constantly exposed to high levels of sugar in the blood, then it can damage the nerves.
Triglycerides, which are a type of fat, have also been associated with nerve damage. High levels of triglycerides in the blood are commonly a sign of type 2 diabetes.
Both of these causes can worsen if a diabetic fails to manage their condition well. This is the reason why people who are not able to control their blood sugar levels are more prone to diabetic neuropathy.
Having high blood pressure and liver damage can also lead to nerve damage. However, these conditions are not necessarily caused by diabetes. It is not uncommon to see diabetics with additional health problems such as these.
What Are the Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy?
The initial symptoms of diabetic neuropathy are the following:
- A numb sensation
- Tingling sensation in the hands or feet
- Pain that cannot be explained
As the nerve damage progresses, patients can experience the following symptoms:
- Weakness of the muscles or limbs
- Nausea, vomiting, and indigestion
- Inability to hold urine and other urinary problems
- Impotence or erectile dysfunction in men
- Sweating too much, even if it’s not that hot
- Paralysis or inability to move certain parts of the body
- Twitching, cramps, or muscle spasms
- Loss of coordination
- Sudden weight loss
- A feeling that you are wearing socks or gloves even if you are not
- Inability to feel pain, touch, pressure, and temperature
These combinations of symptoms in a diabetic patient can mean that the patient is suffering from diabetic neuropathy.
How is it Diagnosed?
In order to diagnose diabetic neuropathy, your doctor will check your medical history and conduct a physical exam. This helps them get an idea about the current state of your health, and whether any medication that you are taking accounts for your symptoms. Certain types of medicine and exposure to toxic substances can also cause nerve damage.
Next, a neurologic exam will be conducted in order to test your reflexes, coordination, balance, as well as your muscle strength. Your ability to feel heat and cold will also be tested.
Sometimes, a blood test may also be required. This helps show if there are any deficiencies in your blood, or if there are any other problems that could be affecting your nervous system.
If it has been confirmed that you have neuropathy, a nerve conduction study or needle electromyography might be done in order to find out where the nerve damage is, and the extent of the damage. These tests check the electrical activity of your muscles and can measure the response of nerves in order to find out how healthy they are.
How is it Treated?
In terms of treatment, the first thing to be recommended will be to keep your blood sugar under control. The more your blood sugar stays within the normal range, the less risk there is of further nerve damage.
Your doctor may also prescribe a change of diet, increased exercise, as well as certain types of medication in order to mitigate and slow down the symptoms of nerve damage.
For diabetic patients, it is important that you regularly consult your physician and monitor your condition. Overlooking your symptoms and not having it immediately treated can lead to more serious complications that may affect more body functions.
Can Diabetic Neuropathy Be Reversed?
The question of “can diabetic neuropathy be reversed?” is something that weighs heavily on the mind of diabetic patients. After all, it would be amazing if a patient who suffered severe nerve damage would be able to live normally again.
However, it is widely believed that diabetic neuropathy cannot be reversed. The best thing that doctors can help you with would be to slow down the progression of the disease and prevent it from causing further damage.
Certain medications can also manage the symptoms. But as far as curing diabetic neuropathy, it is improbable.
Keep your blood sugar levels in check. It is very important for diabetics to be mindful of their diet and to monitor their blood sugar levels throughout the day. This helps give them an idea of the current state of their health, and if they need to be more vigilant when it comes to controlling their blood sugar.
By managing diabetes properly, and taking steps towards being more healthy, diabetics can live a long and fulfilling life.
Learn more about Diabetes here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.