Diabetic Neuropathy - Nerve Damage

Diabetic neuropathy is the term for nerve damage, which causes sensory problems; numbness in your hands or feet and is very worrying.

A slightly mild form of neuropathy can give you tingling feelings or sensitive, even painful, sensations in your extremities.

The danger if you get numbness is that you can have cuts, sores, ulcers or blisters and, especially if they are on your feet, you may not even realize you have a diabetic neuropathy problem because you cannot feel any pain.

My father-in-law had type 2 diabetes, which unfortunately was not as well controlled as it needed to be. He wasn't aware of all the diabeteic neuropathy condition. He developed a sore on the ball of his foot. Unfortunately it got worse and, because he got another sore on his other foot and then got a dose of flu, his whole immune system got overloaded.

(Check these free guides on foot care).

His immune system 'dealt with' the one foot and his flu but the problem with his other foot got worse and created considerable damage. Eventually he had to have an amputation.

Now, I'm not saying developing diabetic neuropathy is going to lead to this result, but it does demonstrate how important it is to take care of your hands and feet. Don't underestimate how vital your diabetic care program is to your well-being.

And it is worth making sure you have all the diabetes information you need to hand ('scuse the pun!) – especially if you are feeling unwell.

This type of nerve damage is call sensorimotor neuropathy or peripheral neuropathy.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms of neuropathy (they frequently occur at night)...

  • Tingling or numbness in fingers, toes or legs
  • Pain or sensitivity when you touch your extremities; e.g. toes
  • Feeling cold, burning or pain in hands, feet or legs
  • Loss of balance or co-ordination
  • Pain or cramps

... you might find this website is worth a visit: Neuropathy Breakthrough

Another type of nerve damage, which is not so easily diagnosed, is autonomic neuropathy. The reason it is more difficult to recognise is because the problems it causes are often confused with symptoms for other medical conditions.

The symptoms you might experience include:

  • problems with your digestive system; feeling bloated or nauseous
  • feeling constipated or having diarrhea or vomiting
  • bladder problems
  • you sweat more – or less – than normal
  • feeling faint or dizzy
  • you notice your eyesight is reacting differently to light and dark
  • problems with sexual activity

A couple of other symptoms, which are more difficult to detect, are not getting the warning symptoms of low blood-sugars and not feeling typical warning signs of a heart attack.

As a diabetic you could have focal neuropathy. This is where a nerve, or group of nerves, is damaged and creates a sudden weakness or pain. You might get double vision or paralysis on one side of your face, known as Bell's palsy. You might even experience some pain in the front of your thigh or other parts of your body.

Symptoms of nerve damage can be very slight. Make sure you know what to look for and keep your diabetes care team informed so they can advise you.

Top: Diabetic Neuropathy