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Diabetic Nerve Damage: Do Not Ignore these Signs!

By Dr. Nikita Toshi +2 more

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that can have severe effects on the body, often leading to diabetic nerve damage. One of the most common conditions caused by long-term diabetes is neuropathy or peripheral nerve damage. This affects the extremities like the hands and the legs.

The nerve damage is a result of high blood sugar levels over a period. High blood pressure, inflammation of the nerves and cholesterol levels are possible causes of nerve damage. Some people may not show any symptoms while others may not be able to move even. Here are some signs of diabetic nerve damage.

Diabetic Nerve Damage

  1. Numbness

This is the most common indicator of peripheral neuropathy. Many people are unable to feel their feet or feel as if they are clothed with socks or gloves while walking. Others experience a tingling or a burning sensation in their hands and legs. They also have difficulty in observing temperature changes.

  1. Pain That Shoots Through the Arms & Legs

Pain that feels like an electric current passing through the limbs is another sign of diabetic nerve damage. It could also be like cramps. Some people keep dropping off objects that they might be holding.

Neurological examination, nerve conduction studies, 10 g monofilament test, and skin biopsy are some of the diagnostic tests used for identifying the extent of nerve damage in diabetic neuropathy.

Dr. Ashish Bajaj – M.B.B.S, M.D.
  1. Losing Balance

Many people experience loss of balance. They have problems with coordination. This could be because of muscle weakness and numbness in the feet. Ankle reflexes also suffer due to diabetic nerve damage.

  1. Heightened Sensitivity

Some people face an increased sensitivity to touch. For some, even a light bed sheet could be a painful weight to hold.

The most common symptoms of diabetic neuropathy are numbness, tingling, a burning feeling, aching, cramps and weakness. Symptoms often begin in their feet or hands. These symptoms may later spread to their legs and arms.

Dr. M.G. Kartheeka, MBBS, MD
  1. Sores and Ulcers

Multiple ulcers, blisters, and sores on the legs and feet are another sign of neuropathy. Some people hurt themselves and don’t realize it. This is a dangerous and worrisome situation as you could hurt yourself seriously and be unaware of the injury.

It is important to note that diabetic neuropathy is not possible to be revered but progression can surely be halted and treated with medications if started at early stages.

Dr. Ashish Bajaj – M.B.B.S, M.D.
  1. Exaggerated Sensations

People with diabetes who have suffered nerve damage experience a heightened sense of temperatures. What might be warm will appear to be scalding hot and a slight dip in temperature might make them feel that they are freezing.

Also Read: Diabetic Foot: Understanding Its Causes and Research-Based Strategies to Reduce the risk 

Other types of nerve damage like damage to nerves of the autonomic system or the face could result in the following signs and symptoms.

  1. Constipation or diarrhoea
  2. When nerves to the bladder get damaged, it could result in urinary tract infections or incontinence.
  3. Difficulty in swallowing
  4. Nausea, vomiting and appetite loss due to loss of control over the stomach muscles.
  5. Changes in sweating patterns
  6. Increased heart rate, even while resting
  7. Erectile dysfunction
  8. Vaginal dryness
  9. A weakening of thigh muscles
  10. Weight loss
  11. Severe pain in the legs
  12. Double vision
  13. Paralysis of one side of the face
  14. Problems in focusing

If you experience any of these signs, consult your doctor. They may not mean that you necessarily have nerve damage, but it could be a sign of some underlying problem. Early diagnosis and treatment lead to better control of the situation.

Read More: How to Control Diabetes?

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