There are more than 37 million adults in the United States who have diabetes and another 96 million who are prediabetic. If, like these millions of others, you have a diabetes diagnosis, nerve damage is a clear and present danger and something you have every right to be concerned about.
To help you understand this serious diabetes complication, the team of health care providers here at Valliant Life Medical wants to focus on the connection between diabetes and nerve damage, including peripheral neuropathy.
When you have diabetes, you have higher-than-normal levels of blood sugar in your bloodstream. Over time, these high levels can damage your body, starting with sensitive nerve fibers, causing a condition called diabetic neuropathy.
There are different types of diabetic neuropathy, including:
This describes damage to your peripheral nerves, usually in your arms, hands, legs, and feet. Peripheral neuropathy affects up to half of people with diabetes.
This occurs when nerves that control your organs succumb to damage, such as those in your eyes or those that control your bladder function. Autonomic neuropathy affects about 30% of people with diabetes.
This is a condition in which one nerve is damaged, as is the case with carpal tunnel syndrome. In fact, about one quarter of people with diabetes have some nerve compression in their wrists.
There are other ways that nerves can become damaged by diabetes, but the above three are the most common.
The answer to this question is “No,” as not everyone with diabetes incurs nerve damage. That said, the threat is very real, especially if you consider some of the numbers we outlined above — 50% of people with diabetes develop peripheral neuropathy and 30% end up with autonomic neuropathy.
Nerve damage tends to develop in older people who have had diabetes for some time. There’s also some evidence that genes may play a role.
While there may not be much you can do about your age or your genes, there are plenty of steps you can take to prevent or slow nerve damage. First and foremost, it’s imperative that you work toward regulating your glucose.
Outside of managing your diabetes properly, the following factors put you at a higher risk for neuropathy:
Any steps you take to offset these risks are steps that can prevent nerve or slow nerve damage.
If, despite your best efforts, you still develop peripheral neuropathy, our team can help you manage the symptoms and slow the progression of the nerve damage.
If you have more questions about the connection between nerve damage and diabetes, or you’d like to explore your treatment options for existing neuropathy, please contact our office in Fort Worth, Texas, to set up an appointment.