The most common form of diabetic nerve damage is loss of feeling in the hands and feet. The medical term for nerve damage caused by diabetes is diabetic neuropathy. When it affects the hands and feet it is called peripheral neuropathy.
The nerves that control body functions, such as heart rate and digestion, can also be affected. This type of problem is called autonomic neuropathy.
Doctors have been studying diabetic nerve damage for many years, but they do not yet understand how diabetes damages the nervous system. However, they do know that you can help prevent it with good control of blood sugar levels.
You can have peripheral neuropathy and not notice any symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they may include:
The symptoms of autonomic neuropathy include:
There is no cure for neuropathy. The best approach is to prevent it by controlling your blood sugar.
Muscle weakness is treated with support, such as splints. Physical therapy can also help with exercises for the weak muscles. Exercises can be used to strengthen all muscle groups to keep you as fit as possible.
Pain-killing drugs or cream put on the skin may help pain during the night. Medicines can be used to treat nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
If you have nerve damage in your feet or hands, injuries are a serious problem because you can't feel if something is hot or sharp. Diabetes also makes it harder for injuries to heal. It is very important to be extra careful to avoid burns, cuts, and other injuries.
The nerve damage will not go away. However, you may be able to prevent more damage by keeping your blood sugar under good control.
Nerve damage makes other diabetes-related complications worse. For example, if you have lost feeling in your feet and legs, you may not know you have an injury or infection until it develops into a bad sore. Make sure you:
Men who have trouble having erections, which is a condition called erectile dysfunction (ED) or impotence, should talk to their healthcare providers. There are medicines to help a man get and maintain an erection. There are also mechanical devices to help. Ask your provider if your problem is related to the diabetes and what might be done about it. Urologists are the medical specialists who usually help with ED.
The best way to help prevent diabetic nerve damage is to:
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