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Deceptive Diabetes-What You Didn't Know About Nerve Damage

By Edited Nov 13, 2015 0 0

Using diabetes lancing device

Using Lancette Device
Credit: Judy Drake

Using a lancet device to check blood sugar

     Type 2 Diabetes can be a very deceptive disease for those who may be newly diagnosed or those whom are not diabetic. Even people that were diagnosed with Type 2 a long time ago may not realize the effects of not taking care of themselves and controlling blood sugar levels. Damage affects over 60 percent of patients with diabetes, especially those that have had high glucose levels for 25 or more years. Obesity, high blood pressure, along with smoking can greatly increase the chances of developing nerve damage in patients. 

     Unchecked glucose levels can lead to serious damage, or neuropathy. The more often one goes with unchecked levels, the more likely neuropathy is to result. A Glucometer is the easiest way for a diabetic patient to check their sugar or glucose levels at regular intervals. The meters are fairly easy to use and give the result in seconds. Doctors often recommend patients to test their glucose level at least once daily.

      Further research is ongoing to determine other factors involved in neuropathy.  Other factors being evaluated are: lifestyle factors, autoimmune problems that cause inflammation, prior injuries to affected areas, high or abnormal fat levels, and genetics. Some patients do not experience symptoms with the neuropathy. Nerve damage is not limited to the outer extremities; most of the internal organs are susceptible to nerve damage. Quite often patients do experience symptoms. Some of the symptoms patients experience are:

  • pain, tingling, numbness in the hands, feet, arms, and legs.
  • wasting of the muscles in the legs, feet, arms, or hands
  • indigestion, nausea, or vomiting
  • diarrhea or constipation
  • dizziness or faintness due to a drop in blood pressure after standing or sitting up
  • problems with urination
  • erectile dysfunction in men or vaginal dryness in women
  • weakness
  • weight loss
  • depression
  • a tingling, burning, or prickling sensation
  • sharp pains or cramps
  • extreme sensitivity to touch, even light touch
  • loss of balance and coordination
  •  insensitivity to pain or temperature

 

The cardiovascular system consists of blood vessels and the heart; these control your body’s blood circulation. Damage to the heart can lead to heart problems including disease. It can cause a constant high or low pulse rate instead of the normal fluctuations depending on activity levels. Your blood pressure or heart rate may not adjust appropriately to changes in rest, sitting, lying down, or activities; which can cause light-headiness, dizziness, and even fainting.

The Urinary Tract and Sexual Organs can be affected by in different ways. It can prevent the bladder from completely emptying causing bacterial urinary tract infections. The person may no longer be able to sense when their bladder is full or control the muscles that release urine leading to incontinence.

Sexual drive may or may not be diminished. Nerve damage can lessen sexual response in both men and women over time. This causes difficulties with arousal, lubrication, erections and even orgasm. Men may be able to achieve sexual climax, but may have to use uncommon means.

The most common issues in the digestive system are constipation, gastro paresis, frequent uncontrolled diarrhea, and difficulty swallowing food.  Gastro paresis is when the stomach empties too slowly; severe cases are the cause of persistent vomiting, bloating, weight loss and loss of appetite.

The body’s sweat glands can be affected by nerve damage. When it occurs here the sweat glands may not work properly. The body’s ability to regulate its temperature is hindered. This can cause the body to overheat from not sweating or profuse sweating especially at night or even while eating.

     Eyesight can be greatly diminished or lost due to nerve damage of the eyes. It can be so profound that a person may not be able to see at night to drive. It is possible that a light turned on in a dark room may not offer much help for a person with eye neuropathy. There may be a problem with focusing the eye. Double vision and aches behind the eye itself are also problems caused.

      Diabetes can be a deceptively dangerous disease. It can cause nerve damage in almost any part of the patient’s body. Prolonged high glucose levels are a major contributor of neuropathy. Some patients do not experience symptoms with the neuropathy. Nerve damage is not limited to the outer extremities; most of the internal organs are susceptible to nerve damage.  A glucometer is a great way to control blood sugar levels. Nerve damage may or may not have symptoms depending on the person. Be sure to control your sugar levels.

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