Diabetes treatments focus on keeping your blood sugar within a healthy range. Why? Because it’s the only way to prevent complications like diabetic neuropathy.
The skilled team at Infinity Regenerative and Neuropathy Center in Plano, Texas, works with many people who have diabetic neuropathy, providing advanced therapies that directly treat the damaged nerves.
But they would prefer to help you prevent nerve damage by teaching you how diabetic neuropathy develops and highlighting the importance of managing your blood sugar.
About diabetic neuropathy
Neuropathy is a general term referring to nerve damage. Peripheral neuropathy occurs when one or more nerves traveling throughout your body (outside your brain and spinal cord) become damaged or inflamed.
There are countless causes of peripheral neuropathy, including injuries, infections, vitamin deficiencies, and autoimmune diseases. But diabetes is the most common cause, accounting for 60% of all cases. When diabetes causes peripheral neuropathy, it’s called diabetic neuropathy.
How diabetes causes high blood sugar
Your body naturally controls the sugar (glucose) levels in your blood. When blood sugar rises above the healthy range, your pancreas releases insulin. Insulin restores normal levels by sending sugar into cells or to your liver. Cells use the sugar for energy, while your liver turns it into triglycerides and stores it as fat.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that causes high blood sugar. Type 1 diabetes begins when an autoimmune disease damages your pancreas. As a result, it can’t produce insulin, and your blood sugar rises.
When you have type 2 diabetes, your pancreas still works, but your cells stop responding to insulin, refusing to let it transfer sugar out of your bloodstream.
How high blood sugar leads to diabetic neuropathy
High blood sugar damages your blood vessels and nerves. Excessive sugar may directly damage your nerves by getting inside the nerve cells and affecting their structure and function.
Or your nerves may be injured when high blood sugar destroys blood vessels, depriving nerves of the oxygen and nutrients they need to thrive.
The longer your blood sugar stays elevated, the more peripheral nerve damage you develop.
Keeping your blood sugar in the normal range is the only way to prevent diabetic neuropathy and slow progressive nerve damage once neuropathy begins.
Diabetic neuropathy complications
The first signs of diabetic neuropathy appear in your feet. Damaged nerves cause pain and tingling (pins and needles sensations) symptoms until the damage gets so severe that numbness takes over.
After neuropathy develops, you have a high risk of developing foot ulcers. Diabetic foot ulcers require professional wound care because they’re notoriously hard to heal. Instead of healing, the ulcers enlarge, dangerous infections develop, and you may face tissue death and the need for an amputation.
Foot pain and ulcers aren’t the only complications of uncontrolled blood sugar. Diabetic neuropathy can affect many other organs, potentially leading to bladder and urinary problems, erectile dysfunction, slow stomach emptying, and dizziness when standing.
Diabetic neuropathy also affects the nerves supporting your heart and blood vessels. When they’re damaged, problems occur with your heart rate and blood pressure.
Preventing and treating diabetic neuropathy
Controlling your blood sugar begins by following a healthy diet and monitoring the amount and type of carbohydrates you consume. It also helps to maintain a healthy weight and get regular exercise (which naturally lowers blood sugar).
If you have type 1 diabetes, you take insulin to lower your blood sugar. Many people with type 2 diabetes can control their blood sugar with lifestyle modifications. But if dietary steps aren’t enough, they also need medication.
While carefully managing your blood sugar is essential, there are other steps you can take to treat neuropathy after it develops. We offer innovative treatments for diabetic neuropathy that ease your symptoms and support nerve regeneration and healing.
To learn more about diabetic neuropathy, call Infinity Regenerative and Neuropathy Center today or request an appointment online.