People with diabetes can have nerve problems. This is called diabetic neuropathy.
Diabetic neuropathy happens when you have high blood sugar levels over a long time. This causes damage to the nerves that go to your legs, arms, digestive tract, heart, and bladder.
The nerve damage can cause many different problems in your body.
Tingling or burning in the arms and legs may be an early sign of nerve damage. These feelings often start in your toes and feet. You may have deep pain. This often happens in the feet and legs.
Nerve damage may cause you to lose feeling in your legs and arms. Because of this, you may:
People with diabetes may have problems digesting food. These problems can make your diabetes harder to control. Symptoms of this problem are:
Heart-related problems may include:
Neuropathy may "hide" angina. This is the warning chest pain for heart disease and heart attack. People with diabetes should learn other warning signs of a heart attack. They are sudden fatigue, sweating, shortness of breath, nausea, and vomiting.
Other symptoms of nerve damage are:
Treating diabetic neuropathy can make some symptoms of nerve problems better. The best way to keep the problem from getting worse is to have tight control of your blood sugar.
Your doctor can give you medicines to help with some of these symptoms.
You should also:
Diabetic neuropathy - self-care
American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes -- 2013. Diabetes Care. 2013;36 Suppl 1:S11-S66.
Brownlee M, Aiello LP, Cooper ME, et al. Complications of diabetes mellitus. In: Mehmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, Kronenberg HM, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 33.
Updated by: Nancy J. Rennert, MD, Chief of Endocrinology & Diabetes, Norwalk Hospital, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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