There are three types of diabetes; Type 1 (the onset of diabetes in children), Type 2 (adult-onset diabetes) and gestational diabetes (diabetes that develops during pregnancy). Approximately 60-70% of people who are diagnosed with diabetes will experience diabetic neuropathies. Diabetic neuropathies are a condition in which there is nerve damage throughout the body caused by diabetes. This condition can cause numbness and tingling in areas of the body such as the hands and feet, arms and legs as well as internal organs. Some diabetics may have diabetic neuropathies and experience no symptoms while others will complain of severe numbness and tingling that affects their daily lives. In general, people who have been diagnosed with diabetes for more than 25 years or diabetics who have difficulty keeping their blood glucose levels under control will experience the symptoms of diabetic neuropathies. Currently, research is being done to examine why nerve damage is related to aspects of diabetes. Depending on which type of neuropathy and what nerves it is affecting, symptoms will vary from person to person. There may be weakness, numbness and tingling into the upper and lower extremities, nausea and vomiting, difficult urination, constipation or diarrhea and dizziness or fainting.
There are four types of diabetic neuropathy; peripheral (the most common and causes numbness and tingling in the upper and lower extremities), autonomic (affects the internal organs and can interrupt the nerve impulses responsible for blood pressure, heart control and the function of the eyes and lungs), proximal (produces pain into the thighs, buttocks and hips and can cause leg weakness) or focal (the condition in which there is sudden weakness to a nerve or group of nerves and can occur to any nerve in the body). A diagnosis will be made when it is clear where in the body the neuropathy is affecting. The best prevention method in avoiding the development of diabetic neuropathies is to closely monitor blood glucose levels. Diabetic neuropathies are not curable but it is possible to steady and slow the progress of the condition by monitoring blood glucose levels, keeping active and maintaining an exercise program and choosing meal options that are recommended for people with diabetes. It is always advised to stop smoking as smoking can worsen the symptoms of diabetic neuropathies. Treatment for severe nerve pain usually includes medication or a combination of medications prescribed by a primary care physician, depending on what nerves are affected and the level of severity.
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