One of the most frightening complications of type 2 diabetes is diabetic neuropathy. Often times, the thought of pain or numbness in a part of your body can be nerve racking.
For the most part though, diabetes isn’t a painful disease until complications set in. Therefore, many people go on for years with high blood sugar and don’t even know it.
It usually isn’t until you’ve had diabetes for some time that you have problems with diabetic neuropathy. In fact, many doctors have told me that their patients can often tell when their blood sugar is high because they will start to experience diabetic neuropathy. So in some cases it’s a signal.
The good part here is, if you can control diabetes you can certainly reduce diabetic neuropathy. And the purpose of this article is to give you the ins and outs on diabetic neuropathy. And hopefully some encouragement that you can manage this complication as you can the entire disease.
What Is Diabetic Neuropathy?
The short and plain of it is – when your blood sugar gets too high this damages the nerves in your body. This is called diabetic neuropathy.
High blood sugar levels damage your blood vessels and reduce blood flow to your nerves. This starves them and they can’t get oxygen and nutrients that they need to survive. High blood sugar also reduces their ability to fire signals.
About half of all people with diabetes have neuropathy to some degree. And it usually presents in a number of ways. No two people are alike.
Here are some of the most common ways that diabetic neuropathy may present:
- Shooting pain
- Stabbing pain
- Sharpness or stinging
- Loss of sensation
- Abnormal reflexes
Diabetic neuropathy usually begins in the feet and spreads upward. In general, neuropathy adds to the problem of foot damage and ulcers on the feet, because you can’t feel if you have a cut or infection. And you don’t have a good sense of positioning with your feet, which can also lead to damage.
As diabetes gets worse and isn’t under control, so does diabetic neuropathy. And as I mentioned, reduced blood flow and damage to the nerves leads to ulcers and ultimately in severe later stages, amputations.
But this doesn’t have to happen…
Ways To Treat And Reduce Diabetic Neuropathy
Keep your blood sugar levels in normal ranges. If you keep your blood sugar in normal ranges you can see results in as little as a couple of weeks. Do this for years and you will see more improvements as your nerves heal.
All the more reason to closely control your blood sugar. I don’t think there is a food in this world that is worth eating if you can’t feel your toes. Or if you experience pain from eating it.
NOTE: According to the ADA, by just reducing your A1C by 1%, you reduce your risk of diabetic complications such as neuropathy by 37%.
Exercise. This is great for controlling your blood sugar. And it helps improve circulation.
Medication. There are numerous medications out there. The problem with medication is they can be like a band-aid. Sure you may feel better temporarily, but damage is still being done in most cases. I believe it’s always best to get to the root of the problem. Your blood sugar.
Alpha lipoic acid. Alpha lipoic acid is a powerful antioxidant and in studies, when given intravenously, it has been shown to be very effective at improving diabetic neuropathy. You can pick this up in the supplement form at your local health food store.
Prior to using any of this material, please consult with your physician.