Diabetes-related Diseases

Effects of Diabetes on the Nerves


Neuropathy is a potential complication of high blood glucose levels for a long time. Neuropathy can cause health problems ranging from mild numbness to pain that make it difficult to carry out normal activities.

Symptoms of neuropathy usually develop slowly, so it’s important to notice the symptoms early so you can take action to prevent it from becoming more serious.

How Neuropathy Occurs in Diabetics Patients:

Over time, high blood glucose levels and high (fat) lipid levels (e.g., blood triglycerides) can damage nerves, high blood glucose levels can also damage the small blood vessels that supply nerves with oxygen and nutrients without which nerves cannot function well.

People with a higher risk of neuropathy from people with diabetes:

  • When age is advanced, and the duration of diabetes is prolonged.
  • Those who are overweight.
  • Those who have high blood pressure.
  • Those who have high cholesterol levels.
  • People with Kidney Disease.
  • Smokers.

Types of Neuropathies (Nerve Damage):

There are four main types of nerve damage, the patient can have more than one type, as the symptoms depend on the type of nerve damage you suffer and the affected nerves:

  1. Peripheral neuropathy: Peripheral neuropathy affects the hands, feet, legs, and arms. It is the most common type of nerve damage for diabetics, generally starting in the feet and usually in both feet simultaneously.
  2. Autonomic neuropathy: It is damage to the nerves that control the internal organs, as it affects the heart, bladder, stomach, intestines, reproductive organs, or eye, in addition to the inability to feel hypoglycemia (Low blood glucose levels).
  3. Proximal neuropathy: This type of nerve damage usually affects the nerves in the thighs, hips, buttocks, affects one side of the body and rarely spreads to the other side, causing severe pain. Proximal neuropathy is more common in men older than 50 years, most people with this condition have type 2 diabetes.
  4. Focal Neuropathy (Nerve Damage): Affecting single nerves, often in the hands, head, legs or trunk, this type of nerve damage is less common.

Tips to Prevent or Delay Neuropathy (Nerve Damage):

  • Maintaining normal blood pressure levels.
  • Practicing regular physical activity.
  • Weight loss when you are overweighed.
  • Following a healthy diet and smoking cessation.
  • Taking medications as directed by your doctor.
  • Use blood glucose testing at home.
  • Getting an A1C test at least twice a year to find out the average blood   glucose level for the past two to three months.
  • Talk to your doctor when you notice symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.
  • Examine the feet daily, using a mirror to see the bottom of the feet, using the hands to feel hot or cold spots, bumps, or dry skin, and looking for sores, wounds, or cracks in the skin or inflammations of the toenails.
  • Protecting the feet from drying out while avoiding placing the moisturizer between the toes.
  • Wearing proper shoes and socks, washing feet with warm water, and drying them carefully afterwards.
  • Be careful not to do some physical activities because it is not safe for people with neuropathy, so talk to the specialist.

When to see a doctor:

  • When a wound or ulcer is observed in the feet that is infected or does not heal.
  • Burning, tingling, weakness, or pain in the hands or feet that interferes with daily activities or sleep.
  • Changes in digestion, urination, or sexual function.
  • Dizziness or fainting

Last Update : 29 August 2023 03:09 PM
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