The most common type of nerve disease
(neuropathy) affects both sensory nerves, which send information to the spinal
cord and brain, and motor nerves, which relay impulses from the brain and
spinal cord to move muscles. This is called diabetic peripheral
Diabetes also affects the nerves that control
involuntary body functions, such as digestion. This is called diabetic
Diabetes can affect single nerves. This is
called diabetic focal neuropathy.
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy
neuropathy, people experience a decrease in sensation or even numbness as well
as difficulty moving the feet and, later on, the fingers and hands. As a result
of this neuropathy, many people with diabetes cannot feel when they have
injured their feet, and they may not know if calluses or ulcers form. Because
of the risk of serious foot injury and infection, it is very important that
people with diabetes learn how to examine their feet daily, wear shoes that fit
well, and protect their feet from injury.
If you have diabetes, a healthy diet does more than keep your blood sugar under better control. A good diabetes diet can also help prevent or delay the onset of complications such as nerve pain or heart disease.
Although some people talk about a "diabetes diet," there's really no such thing, experts say. The same healthy diet recommended for those without diabetes will help you if you have diabetes, too. You may need to then tailor the meal plan to your specific needs, such as lowering your cholesterol...
Sometimes, single nerves
can be affected by diabetes (focal neuropathy). These nerves may be peripheral, such
as the nerves in the legs and arms, or cranial, such as the nerves that control
When single nerves become affected, the result is
weakness or paralysis of the muscles controlled by the nerves. Usually these
motor nerve neuropathies resolve by themselves over a period of several
Diabetic autonomic neuropathy
Diabetes can affect
the autonomic nervous system, which are nerves that we can't consciously
control. The autonomic nervous system controls many aspects of the body's
functioning, such as heart rate and blood pressure, the workings of the
gastrointestinal system, and sexual function.
When the autonomic nerves regulating the heart
and blood vessels are affected, a person's heart rate and blood pressure may
fluctuate abnormally or may not rise appropriately in response to a stimulus
such as exercise. Sometimes, people who have diabetes can experience fainting
spells because their blood pressure drops rapidly.
nerves affecting the gastrointestinal (GI) system control the way these organs
contract and relax in order to move food along. When the nerves that cause the
stomach to contract and move food are affected, it is called diabetic
gastroparesis. Sometimes the effects on the GI system becomes so severe that a
person has to be fed through a feeding tube placed in the small intestine,
bypassing the stomach. When diabetes damages these nerves, a wide range of
symptoms can result, including:
A sensation of food getting stuck because
of problems with how the esophagus contracts and relaxes.
and vomiting because of problems with the stomach.
When the urinary system is affected, emptying
of the bladder may be delayed or incomplete. This increases the chances of
developing a urinary tract infection. Severely prolonged bladder emptying
(urinary retention) can lead to urinary incontinence and, sometimes, fluid
backup into the kidneys.
When the nerves in the sexual organs are
affected, sexual difficulties develop. Diabetes can cause problems in the
autonomic nerves that allow a man to achieve an erection and ejaculate. Women
may experience vaginal dryness.
Autonomic symptoms can be helped by medicines. For
problems with low blood pressure (hypotension), your doctor may prescribe
midodrine (ProAmatine). Metoclopramide, which causes the stomach to contract,
can be used to treat diabetic digestive system problems. Urinary retention can
be treated with a medicine called bethanechol, or by using a catheter. Penile
implants and pumps or medicines such as sildenafil citrate (Viagra) may help
men with erectile dysfunction related to autonomic neuropathy. Viagra cannot be
taken by people who have severe heart problems nor by people who take certain
heart medicines. Talk with your doctor before taking medicine for erectile
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If the level is below 70 and you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.
People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.
Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.
However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.
Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.
One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
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