Diabetic neuropathy is a result of damage to the nerves that often affects people with diabetes. It can occur in either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetic patients and can often lead to damaged nerves in the legs and feet, however high blood sugar can also lead to damaged nerves throughout the body.
The symptoms of this very serious condition can depend on the type of nerves affected. These symptoms might be mild for some people but in others painful or even fatal.
Symptoms of diabetic neuropathy may include numbness and pain in hands, arms, sex organs, the urinary tract, heart, blood vessels, and the digestive system.
Diabetic Neuropathy Treatment
Unfortunately, there is no cure for diabetic neuropathy. It can only be prevented or its effects reduced from getting worse by living a healthy lifestyle and also by tightly controlling the level of your blood sugar so that it is within the target range.
Treatment focuses mainly on controlling the blood sugar levels so that it is within the normal or target range and also preventing the effects from getting worse.
In order to keep blood sugar within a normal range, diabetics are often monitored by their doctor in addition to regular exercise, enhancing their diet, and consuming oral medication or injecting insulin.
It’s important for those with this condition to properly care for their feet, as this may cause their feet to lose feeling.
Oral diabetes medications are often used for pain relief and can greatly reduce nerve pain. However, some medications are not recommended for those who suffer from heart disease or old age due to consequent side effects.
In all cases of diabetic neuropathy, a cure is very unrealistic. The reason there is no cure is due to nerve damage. Treatment aims at lowering the progression, providing pain relief, and finally treating any complications. Therefore, there is only symptomatic management of the disease in addition to the prevention of complications.
Treatment for Reducing Progression
It is important to lower its progression. In order to achieve that, health care workers in collaboration with diabetic patients should focus on maintaining blood glucose levels within a normal range.
All diabetic patients should have access to blood sugar measuring devices. There are several blood testing kits available for patients which can be used in the absence of a health care professional.
Normally, the glucose level in the blood should be from 3 to around 15 mmol/L when fasting. Any deviation out of the range should be an indicator to seek medical intervention. On the same line, doctors can train the patients to master the normal glucose ranges. For instance, one’s blood sugars should be around eight mmol/L during bedtime, slightly less than 10 an hour after meals, and 3 – 7 before having a meal. Once the patients know this, it can be simple to detect a problem on their own while at home concerning their blood sugar levels.
Other than monitoring the sugar levels, there are several steps, which are important in the control of the very blood sugars.
- Use of insulin. Insulin injections can be important in diabetic patients specifically when the blood sugar levels are very high. The intervention reduces the glucose levels back to a normal range.
- Eating a healthy diet that is designed by both the patient and a nutritionist can help maintain normal blood sugar levels.
- Controlling blood pressure is something that does not only help in controlling diabetes but can also help avoid complications such as heart disease.
- Regular exercise can help in the consumption of calories for energy production in addition to preventing obesity. Since the body burns calories during exercise, most sugars are used up to generate energy thus aiding in the reduction of blood sugar levels within normal limits.
Complications from Neuropathy Treatment
When the disease progresses, complications may arise which should be treated accordingly. Some of them include:
Digestive system problems. They are like Gastroparesis, a condition that requires eating a healthier diet and eating smaller but frequent meals in order to alleviate it. Other complications are constipation, diarrhea, and nausea. All may be treated with medication from a health care facility. For example, a lactulose prescription can be enough to treat constipation.
Renal problems. Most of the problems that affect the renal system are infections and nerve impairments among others. In order to treat, such, specific medications can be vital. For example, an appropriate antibiotic regimen can be prescribed by a doctor to combat the very infections. Regarding nerve problems, anticholinergic drugs can be used together with other forms of therapy.
Sexual problems. These problems are psychologically devastating for almost anyone. However, there are drugs like sildenafil (Viagra) and tadalafil among many others that can be important in restoring sexual function. Women may be recommended to use vaginal lubricants if they have any complications.
Diabetic Foot Pain
The most common contributor to diabetic foot pain is a nerve problem called Peripheral Neuropathy. This problem is caused by poor blood glucose control. If you have diabetes you should check your feet regularly. The check-up will include checking the following :
- feeling and reflexes
- unusual foot shapes
- dryness or infections
This damage in diabetes is more likely if you have diabetes for a long time. Simple daily foot care can prevent foot pain. Symptoms of neuropathy, which is the cause of foot pain, may include the loss of protective sensation or tingling sensations. If you have diabetes you should examine your feet daily by yourself. You have to take care of your foot, and never walk barefoot so you avoid injuries.
Tips for foot care during the cold winter months
“Dry winter heat, like sitting in the car with the heater blasting at your feet, can make dryness worse and lead to skin break-down,” Dr. Michael Shlonsky, a foot specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, told Everyday Health. “Watch out for red, shiny areas when you do your daily inspection.”
Moisturizing every day is key to keeping feet smooth, thereby reducing the risk of cracking that can develop into a wound. You can ask your clinician which lotion is best for your condition, then use it each day after bathing or as directed.
Don’t let the cold keep you down
It’s all too easy to stay indoors during the winter and neglect your exercise routine. However, it’s important to stay active during these cold months in order to not only to help you stave off seasonal affective disorder, but also keep weight and sugar levels under control. After all, as the American Diabetes Association notes, exercise can help lower blood glucose levels by making your body more sensitive to insulin. As a result, it can increase blood flow to the limbs, improve sensation and help reduce the risk of developing diabetic foot ulcers.
Don’t just stay at home during the winter. Go outside for a walk, talking to your friends or have any activities to make your physical activity regimen…or find some indoor exercises which you like and best suited for you.
Pain, among patients who suffer from diabetes, is not uncommon. Pain relief medications are needed in order to soothe the pain and provide comfort. Diabetics commonly use drugs such as antidepressants like imipramine, amitriptyline, desipramine and several others to help deal with the pain.
Anti-seizure drugs like gabapentin and carbamazepine are vital in pain relief. At the same time, opioid analgesics are important for soothing the body against pain. An example of such a drug is tramadol.
Topical lidocaine as an analgesic is essential in relieving localized pain. It is important for all patients suffering from diabetes to note that all these drugs have side effects. Therefore, only professional health care providers are recommended to prescribe and offer advice.
In summary, diabetes is a deadly disease, which can become further complicated due to diabetic neuropathy. Unfortunately, there is no cure for diabetic neuropathy however with proper protocol and treatment quality and length of life for patients can be improved.