Sugar. A substance that is hidden in virtually all foods and which, over time, has seen its consumption increase to very disturbing levels. This concern is based on the large number of health effects of this sweet and addictive substance.
One of these consequences is diabetes. Which, without being very detrimental to the person, can be complicated. This is when the so-called diabetic neuropathies appear, Which we will talk about throughout this article.
What is diabetic neuropathy?
Diabetes is a type of disease that is characterized by high blood sugar in those who have it. This excess glucose causes nerve damage, Causing one of the types of diabetic neuropathy. Therefore, diabetic neuropathies are described as a collection of nervous disorders caused by excess blood glucose and which usually causes deterioration of the nerves related to the lower extremities, although it can spread to other areas of the body.
The clinical picture of diabetic neuropathy can vary depending on the damaged nerve clumps. These symptoms range from pain and numbness in the legs, stomach upset or heart problems. In addition, the intensity of symptoms can also differ from person to person, because while in some cases the symptoms are very weak, in others, they can be very disabling and even fatal.
Although diabetic neuropathy is a serious complication of diabetic disease, its symptoms can be avoided or reduced in intensity if the person is committed to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and performing regular blood sugar checks.
This type of nervous disorder affects 60-70% of the diabetic population. Although anyone with a diabetic disease is likely to develop neuropathy, the risk tends to increase with age and with the passage of years of the disease. In other words, the longer a person has had diabetes, the more likely they are to develop neuropathy.
However, this nervous disorder not only affects diabetic patients, but can also occur in people who have difficulty controlling blood sugar levels or in people with high blood pressure who have a large amount of fat. as well as in overweight people.
Types of diabetic neuropathy and symptoms
As indicated in the previous section, there are several types of diabetic neuropathies. These four categories are distinguished according to the damaged nerves, as well as to present a different clinical picture or symptomatology.
It should be noted that the different types of neuropathies are not exclusive. That is, the person can simultaneously develop symptoms typical of different types or, on the contrary, their symptoms only belong to one of the neuropathies.
In most cases, symptoms appear and progress gradually, with the danger that the person is not aware of it until the neuropathy has already caused significant deterioration.
These four types of neuropathy are as follows.
1. Peripheral neuropathy
The peripheral is the most common of all neuropathies. At first, the person experiences a number of symptoms in the upper extremities, which over time they spread to arms and hands and, in addition, they tend to get worse when night comes.
These symptoms are:
- Numbness Decreased sensitivity to pain and temperature at the extremities.
- Itching, cramping, or penetrating pain.
- Increased general sensitivity to touch.
- Feeling of weakness.
- Decreased reflexes.
- Loss of equilibrium and coordination.
- Changes in the feet such as infections, deformities and bone pain.
2. Autonomous neuropathy
As the name suggests, this second type of neuropathy affects the autonomic nervous system. As a result, the nerve cells that govern the functioning of organs such as the lungs, heart, eyes or sex organs can be severely damaged.
Among the symptoms of autonomic neuropathy we can find:
- Stomach upset such as constipation or diarrhea.
- Urinary tract infections and incontinence.
- Swallow problems.
- Vaginal dryness.
- Decreased blood pressure.
- Increased heart rate at rest.
3. Radiculoplexopathy neuropathy
Also known as diabetic muscular atrophy, this type of neuropathic disorder mainly affects the lower extremities; including the hips and buttocks. Usually symptoms only appear on one side of the body, But they can disperse.
The main symptoms are:
- Sudden, sharp pain sensation.
- Membership issues.
- Muscle weakness and atrophy.
This latter class of neuropathy usually appears suddenly and is more typical of older people and is characterized by deterioration of a particular nerve. The best known of the syndromes caused by mononeuropathy is carpal tunnel syndrome, the symptoms are concentrated in the hands of the person.
Although symptoms may depend on the nerves affected, symptoms of mononeuropathy tend to decrease over time. These symptoms include:
- Severe pain in the chest or abdomen.
- Pain in the lower back or pelvis.
- Pain in the thigh.
- Pain in the calf or foot.
Causes and risk factors
As already mentioned throughout the article, the origin of neuropathies lies in deterioration of nerve fibers caused by excessive blood sugar. Although it has not yet been determined exactly why this association is believed to be due to the complex interaction between nerves and blood vessels.
Excessive levels of glucose in the bloodstream can obstruct nerve function, making it difficult to transmit signals. In addition, hyperglycemia can cause wear and tear on the walls of the capillaries, also obstructing the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the nerves.
The conditions that can cause this increase in sugar levels are:
- An alteration in the autoimmune response that causes inflammation of the nerves.
- genetic factors.
- Toxic habits such as smoking and drinking alcohol.
In addition, there are a number of risk factors that can facilitate the onset of any type of neuropathy:
- Lack of control over blood sugar.
- Duration of diabetic disease.
- kidney disease.
So far, it has not been possible to develop a treatment that completely eliminates the symptoms of neuropathies. However, very effective protocols have been developed with the following objectives:
- Reduce disease progression maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which allows the person to maintain adequate blood sugar levels.
- Ease the pain by medication or physiotherapy.
- Control of possible complications and restoration of function through symptomatic treatment.
With these intervention guidelines, it is possible to improve the quality of life of people with neuropathy, who can lead completely normal lives.