How Diabetes Impacts Your Nerves

Your body's chemistry relies on steady blood sugar. diabetes plays havoc with that balance, and your nerves pay the price.

Diabetes is one of the more pervasive afflictions in the human body, with its impacts stretching to nearly every cell and system. Whether acquired at birth as type one diabetes or gained later on in life as type two due to failure of the pancreas to produce insulin, diabetes presents itself as simply elevated blood sugars. That simple change in blood sugar, however, has a domino effect on how nearly every part of your body functions.

Diabetics are at greater risk for infections, and those suffering from the disease are at risk of blindness and even loss of limbs if they don’t properly manage their blood sugars. Another way diabetes affects the body is through nerve damage, called diabetic neuropathy.  This is divided into several categories: Peripheral neuropathy, which causes pain or loss of feeling in the hands, arms, feet, and legs; autonomic neuropathy which can lead to heart damage, loss of bowel control and erectile dysfunction; proximal neuropathy, which  causes pain in the thighs and hips and weakness in the legs; and focal neuropathy, which can affect any nerve in the body.

This nerve damage is interesting because medical science is still unclear as to why it happens. The reason for the connection between elevated blood sugar and nerve damage is unclear, but the connection itself is crystal clear. According to WebMD, 60 percent of patients with diabetes have some form of neuropathy, but in most cases (30 to 40 percent), there are no symptoms. In addition, they note that Diabetic neuropathy appears to be more common in smokers, people over 40 years of age, and those who have had problems controlling their blood glucose levels. • Contact Nephrology & Hypertension Medical Associates if you are at risk.