What is Diabetic Neuropathy?

Posted: 10/6/2017 7:54 AM by Interim HealthCare
Diabetic neuropathy is damage to the nerves that is a result of diabetes. Approximately 50 percent of people with diabetes have nerve damage. Diabetic neuropathy is more likely to occur in people who have had diabetes for many years. If your parent has diabetes, keeping their blood sugar levels under control can help prevent neuropathy from occurring or keep existing neuropathy from getting worse.
Kinds of Neuropathy
There are four different kinds of neuropathy that can occur with diabetes. The are:
  • Autonomic Neuropathy: This type of neuropathy typically affects the digestive system, including the stomach. However, it can also affect the urinary system, blood vessels, and reproductive organs.
  • Peripheral Neuropathy: Peripheral neuropathy most commonly affects the legs, but may also affect the arms, back, and abdomen.
  • Focal Neuropathy: This kind occurs suddenly and targets specific nerves. It often occurs in nerves in the legs, torso, or head, causing pain or weakness.
  • Proximal Neuropathy: Proximal neuropathy usually affects only one side of the body. It causes pain hips, thighs, or buttocks and may lead to leg weakness. 
Causes of Neuropathy
Doctors aren’t sure why prolonged exposure to high blood sugar levels causes damage to nerves. They believe that there are many things that combine to cause the problem. They do know that high blood sugar makes it harder for nerves to work properly and transmit signals as they should. In addition, high blood sugar makes the walls of blood vessels weak so that they don’t provide as much oxygen and nutrients to nerves. Other things that may affect a person’s chances of developing diabetic neuropathy are:
  • Genetics: Some people have genetic factors that have nothing to do with diabetes, but that make them more likely to develop neuropathy.
  • Smoking and Alcohol: Smoking or abusing alcohol harms the nerves.
  • Inflammation: An autoimmune response causes the nerves to become inflamed, affecting the chances of neuropathy. 
If your parent suffers from diabetic neuropathy, a home care provider can help them to ease symptoms and prevent further damage. Home care providers can prepare healthy meals to help keep blood sugar levels under control and improve your parent’s overall health. They can also encourage your parent to remain physically active, which improves blood flow and lowers blood sugar. If your parent’s neuropathy is severe, they may need to engage in exercise activities that are not weight bearing, such as swimming. If this is the case, your parent’s home care provider can drive them to the local pool.

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