Records reveal half of all people with Type 2 diabetes have some type of neuropathy, also known as nerve damage. Damage occurs due to persistently high blood sugar levels. Doctors don't even fully understand why this occurs but they definitely know the symptoms. Here are the four types of neuropathy and how they differ...
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1. Peripheral neuropathy is the most common type. It affects hands, arms, legs and feet. Symptoms include...
- tingling and burning,
- extreme sensitivity to touch,
- difficulty and/or pain when walking,
- loss of reflexes (especially in your ankles),
- loss of coordination or balance,
- bone and joint pain,
- weak muscles, and
- loss of temperature or pain.
Foot problems may include ulcers, deformities and infections.
It can occur in one or both sides of your body. Nerve problems in your neck can radiate down your arm into your hand, or from your hip down your leg and into your foot.
2. Autonomic neuropathy occurs when nerves controlling organ function are hindered. These nerves control how your lungs, eyes, stomach, sex organs, intestines, bladder and heart work, so symptoms vary enormously.
Your heart might race faster than normal. You may not be able to work out if you're hungry. You may not be able to control your body temperature. There may be sexual issues. Diarrhea or constipation may occur alone or in tandem. Your stomach may not empty as fast as it should (gastroparesis), leading to bloating, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite.
Other symptoms may include...
- hypoglycemic unawareness,
- trouble swallowing,
- difficulty adjusting your vision when going from a well-lit area to a darkened one, and
- trouble adjusting your blood pressure, causing it to drop when you sit or stand up. This may cause dizziness or lead you to you faint.
3. Proximal neuropathy is more typical in older adults and it specifically targets the nerves in your hips, thighs and buttocks. Symptoms include pain and weight loss. It causes legs to go weak and this makes it impossible to stand from a sitting position without assistance. Generally this type of neuropathy only occurs in one side of the body, apart from the legs where both are affected.
4. Focal neuropathy affects one nerve or a set of nerves anywhere in your body but is most common in the legs, torso or head. The damage can cause...
- weakness and/or pain,
- eye pain,
- double vision,
- paralysis down one side of your face,
- belly or chest pain, and
- severe pain in one area, eg. the leg or lower back.
Poorly controlled Type 2 diabetes may cause other nerve problems apart from these main four types. Nerve compressions, also known as entrapment syndromes, may also occur. These include...
- carpal tunnel syndrome,
- tingling and numbness in the hand, and
- pain or weakness in your muscles.
If you have any of the above symptoms, its best to consult with your doctor. Tests may be needed. Some problems can be handled with medications, alternative therapies, exercise or surgical intervention... but the sooner you start treatment of these issues, the better off you will be.
Although managing your disease can be very challenging, Type 2 diabetes is not a condition you must just live with. You can make simple changes to your daily routine and lower both your weight and your blood sugar levels. Hang in there, the longer you do it, the easier it gets.
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