Diabetic Neuropathy

 

Diabetic Neuropathy is nerve damage due to diabetes. Overtime, high blood sugars and high levels of fat within the blood can damage your nerves. There are four different types of Diabetic Neuropathy - Peripheral Neuropathy, Autonomic Neuropathy, Focal Neuropathy, and Proximal Neuropathy. The symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy will depend upon which specific type you have. Diabetic neuropathy may lead to foot complications causing infections which heal poorly and amputations in the more extreme of situations. For all four types of Diabetic Neuropathy, prevention can be done by managing your diabetes by managing blood sugars, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.

Autonomic Neuropathy

 

Autonomic Neuropathy is when damage is done to the nerves which control your internal organs. This can lead to problems with your heart rate, blood pressure, digestive system, bladder, sex organs, sweat glands, eyes, and can also cause hypoglycemic unawareness. Symptoms depend upon which of your internal organs is affected:

  1. Digestive system: Symptoms which may include, bloating, fullness, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, fecal incontinence, problems swallowing, and vomiting.

  2. Bladder: Damage to the bladder may make it hard to tell when you need to urinate. Such damage can cause you to hold in urine for too long creating bladder infections. You may also experience urinary incontinence.

  3. Sex Organs: Inability to perform

  4. Sweat Glands: Damage to the nerves which control your sweat glands may result in over sweating at night or while eating. Your sweat glands either do not work altogether or some work while others do not, thus causing you to sweat in some places but not others. With sweat glands that do not properly function, your body may be unable to control its temperature.

  5. Eyes: Damage to the nerves in your pupils result in a slow adjustment response to changes in lighting. Your eyes may take longer to adjust to the light and darkness.

  6. Hypoglycemic Unawareness: Autonomic Neuropathy may cause hypoglycemic unawareness. Hypoglycemic unawareness is the inability to detect the symptoms of a low blood sugar. Inability to detect a low blood sugar can become dangerous as you will be unaware of the fact that you need to treat a low blood sugar. Without this treatment, you may experience a severe hypoglycemic episode causing you to pass out. 

Focal Neuropathy

 

Focal Neuropathy is a condition in which you have damage to single nerves, most commonly those in your hand, head, torso, or leg. The most probable and most common types of Focal Neuropathy include entrapment syndromes such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Symptoms of Focal Neuropathy may include:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

    • “pain, numbness, and tingling in your thumb, index finger, and middle finger, and sometimes weakness of your grip.”

  • Ulnar entrapment

    • “pain, numbness, and tingling in your little and ring fingers”

  • Peroneal entrapment

    • “pain on the outside of your lower leg and weakness in your big toe”

Focal Neuropathy that does not involve trapped nerves

  • Sudden symptoms that improve after weeks to months

Cranial Neuropathies

  • “aching behind one eye, double vision, paralysis on one side of your face, called Bell’s palsy, problems focusing your eyes”

Peripheral Neuropathy

 

Peripheral Neuropathy is a type of nerve damage which affects the feet, legs, hands, and arms. About one-third to one-half of those with diabetes experience Peripheral Neuropathy. Symptoms to your feet, legs, hands or arms may include:

  • Burning

  • Tingling, like “pins and needles”

  • Numbness, pain, weakness

  • Changes in the way you walk

  • Loss of balance, which could make you fall more often

  • Loss of muscle tone in your hands and feet

  • Pain when you walk

  • Problems sensing movement or position

  • Swollen feet

Peripheral Neuropathy can cause foot problems resulting in blisters and sores on your feet. If you lose feeling to your feet, legs, arms, or hands, you may not notice pressure or injuries occurring to these parts of your body. With the addition of Peripheral Neuropathy to Type 1 Diabetes, wounds become more difficult to heal with the increased chance of infections. These infections can then lead to potential amputations.

Proximal Neuropathy

 

A rare and disabling nerve damage either in your hip, buttock, or thigh. This nerve damage commonly affects only one side of the body. Symptoms typically improve gradually over the period of months, or years. Symptoms may include:

  • “sudden and sometimes severe pain in your hip, buttock, or thigh, weakness in your legs that makes it difficult to stand from a sitting position, loss of reflexes such as the knee-jerk reflex—the automatic movement of your lower leg when a doctor taps the area below your knee cap, muscle wasting, or the loss of muscle tissue, weight loss”