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All The Nerve

Author: John McIntosh
Source: Healthy Living, October-December 2005

The Surprising Link Between Diabetes And Nerve Damage

One of the most common long-term repercussions of high blood glucose levels is diabetic neuropathy, or nerve damage. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about two-thirds of those with diabetes have some form of this complication.

The Symptoms

Neuropathy may not produce any obvious symptoms in its beginning stages, but eventually most people find that they experience numbness, tingling or pain in their feet. Other symptoms include:

  • Numbness in the legs, hands, arms and fingers, and a weakening of the muscles of the feet or hands
  • Indigestion, nausea or vomiting and/or diarrhea or constipation
  • Dizziness or faintness due to a drop in blood pressure
  • Sexual dysfunction and/or problems urinating

These symptoms arise when high blood sugar causes damage to nerve converings and to blood vessels that bring essential oxygen to the nerves. The damage may make nerves send messages too slowly or at the wrong times, or it may prevent them from transmitting anything. As neuropathy becomes more severe, it may cause chronic pain, loss of motion and injuries that can lead to amputation.

Though the challenges of nerve damage may seem daunting, progress is being made every day.

The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial, a major NIH study, found that people who kept their blood glucose levels close to normal could lower their risk of nerve damage by as much as 60 percent.

5 Ways To Help

1. Keep blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible.
2. Limit alcohol intake.
3. Take good care of your feet and have your doctor check them regularly.
4. Tell your doctor about problems you have with your feet, legs, stomach, bowels or bladder.
5. Tell your doctor if you are experiencing sexual dysfunction, cannot tell when your blood sugar is to low or feel dizzy when going from lying down to sitting or standing up.

"Though we can't always prevent neuropathy, we can reduce the risk", says Strelitz Diabetes Institutes' Dr. Vinik. "People with diabetes and their doctors need to work together to use the most effective ways to control blood sugar".


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*Many of the statements on this web site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration or other government, research or academic body; any that were are so marked. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diabetes or any disease. Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. Not intended to diagnose or prescribe for medical or psychological conditions nor to claim to prevent, treat, mitigate or cure such conditions. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication. Any products advertised are from third parties. You should read carefully all product packaging. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program. Do not discontinue the use of prescription medication without the approval of your physician.

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