Diabetic Neuropathy : Types, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & Medicines

Diabetic neuropathy is damage of nervous system because of prolonged high glugose level in blood. High glucose level can injure nerve fibers throughout your body, but diabetic neuropathy most usually damages nerves in your legs and feet.

Updated: July 24, 2020

Diabetic neuropathy is  damage of nervous system because of prolonged high glucose level in blood. High glucose level can injure nerve fibers throughout your body, but diabetic neuropathy most usually damages nerves in your legs and feet. For some people, the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy are mild. But diabetic neuropathy can be painful, disabling and even fatal.


Although diabetic neuropathy is a common serious complication of diabetes, it can be  prevented slow its progress with controlled blood sugar and a healthy lifestyle.

Types of Diabetic Neuropathy and its Symptoms:

There are mainly four types of diabetic neuropathy. You may have just one type or symptoms of several types. The signs and symptoms of diabetic neuropathy vary, depending on the type of neuropathy and which nerves are affected.


Peripheral Neuropathy:

Peripheral neuropathy is the most common form of diabetic neuropathy in which Your feet and legs are often affected first, followed by your hands, arms, abdomen, and back.


Signs and Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy include:


  •     Numbness or reduced ability to feel pain
  •     reduced ability to feel temperature changes
  •     A tingling or burning sensation
  •     Sharp pains or cramps
  •     Increased sensitivity to touch
  •     Muscle weakness
  •     Loss of reflexes, especially in the ankle
  •     Loss of balance and coordination
  •     Serious foot problems, such as ulcers, infections, deformities, and bone and joint pain


Autonomic Neuropathy:

Autonomic neuropathy can affect your  heart, bladder, lungs, stomach, intestines, sex organs and eyes.


Signs and symptoms of Autonomic Neuropathy include:


  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar level)unawareness
  • Bladder problems, including urinary tract infections or urinary retention or incontinence
  • Constipation, uncontrolled diarrhea or a combination of the two
  • Slow stomach emptying (gastroparesis), leading to nausea, vomiting, bloating and  loss   of appetite
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Erectile dysfunction in men
  • Vaginal dryness and other sexual difficulties in women
  • Increased or decreased sweating
  • Uncontrolled blood pressure and heart rate, leading to sharp drops in blood pressure which may cause you to faint or feel lightheaded
  • Problems regulating your body temperature
  • Changes in the way your eyes adjust from light to dark
  • Increased heart rate when you are at rest


Radiculoplexus Neuropathy:

Radiculoplexus neuropathy also called as diabetic amyotrophy can affects nerves in the thighs, hips, buttocks or legs. This is more common in people with type 2 diabetes and  adults.


Signs and Symptoms of Radiculoplexus Neuropathy  include:

 
    Sudden and severe pain in your hip and thigh or buttock
    Weak and atrophied thigh muscles
    Difficulty rising from a sitting position
    Abdominal swelling
    Weight loss

Mononeuropathy:

Mononeuropathy also called as focal neuropathy can affect your face, torso or leg when a specific nerve is damaged. This is more common in adults and the symptoms usually diminish and disappear on their own over time.


Signs and Symptoms of Mononeuropathy include:


  •     Difficulty focusing your eyes, double vision or aching behind one eye
  •     Paralysis on one side of your face
  •     Pain in your shin or foot
  •     Pain in your lower back or pelvis
  •     Pain in the front of your thigh
  •     Pain in your chest or abdomen


Causes of Diabetic Neuropathy :

Prolonged uncontrolled blood suger can damage delicate nerve fibers, causing diabetic neuropathy. High blood sugar interferes with the ability of the nerves to transmit signals. It also weakens the walls of the small blood vessels which supply oxygen and nutrients to the nerve.


Other factors that causes Diabetic Neuropathy include:

  • Inflammation in the nerves
  • Genetic factors


Treatment and medicines for Diabetic Neuropathy:

Diabetic neuropathy cannot be cured but can be managed by keeping blood glucose levels under good control through a combination of diet and medication so that the neuropathy does not worsen some  antidepressants for example, duloxetine (Cymbalta)and antiseizure such as gabapentin (Neurontin), carbamazepine (Tegretol), and pregabalin (Lyrica) can be effective in relieving pain that originates in the nerves.

In severe cases, opioid analgesic medications may be needed. Capsaicin cream is a topical agent that helps relieve nerve pain. Antispasmodic or anticholinergic drugs can help prevent urinary incontinence. Drugs to treat erectile dysfunction like sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra) may help some men with ED due to diabetic neuropathy. For women, vaginal estrogen creams and lubricants may provide relief of vaginal dryness and irritation. Botulinum toxin (Botox) injections have been used to treat abnormal sweating




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