Diabetic Neuropathy – Diabetic Nerve Disease
High blood glucose level for an extended period can lead to many
complications. One such problem is neuropathy or nerve damage. This is contracted by people who
have had increased levels of blood sugar over a period of ten years. People over 40 and especially
those who are smokers or heavy drinkers have the risk of getting nerve damage. Nerve damage has
also been observed more in taller people as they have longer nerve fibres. Since the cause of
neuropathy is high blood sugar level, diabetics belonging to both types are exceptionally
vulnerable to this condition, particularly if they have poor glucose control.
All patients of diabetes need to be extra careful
if they want to avoid nerve damage. Unfortunately, there are no symptoms
of neuropathy. This makes it crucial for people to check their blood sugar levels regularly so that
the onset of neuropathy can be detected early. Diabetics need to be assured that the effects of
neuropathy can be reduced or completely cured by maintaining normal glucose levels.
In order to diagnose neuropathy, reactions of different nerves to different
sensations are tested. In the vibration test, certain nerves are tested for abnormalities by their
responses to the vibrations caused by the tuning fork. Patients with nerve damage lose sensation to
hotness and coldness in the affected area. Hence, another way of diagnosing neuropathy in the
smaller nerves is by temperature. The third way to diagnose nerve damage is by light touch testing.
In this, the larger nerves are tested on their response to a filament touching their skin. A normal
person will feel the filament pressing in their skin with 1 g of force. However, if 75 g of force
or 10 g of force to the foot area does not evoke any sensation of touch, this means that there has
been damage to the nerves in that area.
There are different types of nerve damage. The most common form of neuropathy in
diabetics is sensory neuropathy in which the sensory nerves get damaged and there is loss of
sensation. The parts of body most affected by them are feet and legs. This is potentially harmful
for diabetics because the patient may hurt himself and not even realise it and the injury can
become infected very quickly due to diabetes.
Other forms of neuropathy include damage to the motor
nerves that carry instructions to the muscles. However, the most severe form is automatic nerve
damage in which our involuntary movements, like that of the heart and bladder muscles, are
Neuropathy can be reversible if it is diagnosed and treated on time. Therefore,
diabetics are advised to be on alert and keep checking for any nerve damage that they might be