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Nerves Are Damaged as Your Body Battles Diabetes

Nerves Are Damaged as Your Body Battles Diabetes

Your nerves can be damaged by diabetes. When that happens, the condition is referred to as diabetic neuropathy. When it comes to this side effect of living with diabetes, many people assume that it has to do with the nerves in the extremities - that they’ll feel pain in their arms, hands, legs and feet.


But that’s not the end of nerve damage that happens when you’re a diabetic. You need to be educated about what all this entails so you can watch for signs and symptoms that your disease is out of control.


The True Effects of Nerve Damage


The problem with your diabetes reaching the stage where nerve damage occurs is that it can go inward. You can end up having nerve problems with your organs. Diabetic neuropathy can affect your entire gastrointestinal system.


It can interfere with your body’s ability to send or receive messages that relay and start or stop certain functions. For example, in your digestive tract, diabetes can cause you to end up with chronic constipation.


The nerves that function within your system can get damaged. Then your digestive tract doesn’t get the signals it should. Besides constipation, diabetic neuropathy can cause diarrhea.


That’s because nerve damage can get in the way of the signals that control the way your body digests foods. You can develop gastroparesis - known as a slow emptying of the stomach - if you have neuropathy.


This can make you feel full, even when it’s been hours since you last ate. That’s because the food in your stomach isn’t moving along like it’s supposed to. This can have an impact on your glucose levels.


This type of nerve damage is known as autonomic neuropathy and the biggest factor for developing this is having diabetes. While the nerve damage can cause problems with your digestive system, it can also impact your heart.


It can cause your heart rate to become abnormal. You may experience high heart rates known as tachycardia or low heart rates known as bradycardia. The disease can also damage your blood vessels because of the neuropathy.


Your bladder can be impacted, too. The nerves that are supposed to relay signals to your bladder can stop working right when they’re damaged. As a result of this, it can cause the muscles that are supposed to keep urine where it belongs to function poorly.


When this happens, you’ll develop incontinence. Many people who live with diabetes don’t realize that the disease can also cause trouble in their sex life. Diabetes can disrupt the function of the nerves that are responsible for sexual health.


Women with the disease can experience incontinence during intimacy. They can also have little or no sex drive. Dryness can be a problem and inability to have an orgasm can also be caused by diabetic neuropathy.


Men with diabetic nerve damage can have trouble with impotence, testosterone levels, and retrograde ejaculation. The area where the nerve damage is located within your body will determine the extent of problems that you’ll have as a result.


There are several warning signs that can notify someone with diabetes that there’s a problem going on with the nerves. One of the symptoms of nerve damage is numbness in your hands, fingers or feet.


You can also feel numbness in your lips. You may have a sensation like you’re burning under your skin. Neuropathy can also cause pain in the muscles or muscle weakness. You may feel dizzy or like you’re tilting as you walk.


But you might also experience dizziness when you stand up. Nerve damage can cause bloating or a lack of hunger. You can also have problems either sweating too profusely or not sweating enough when you need to. Back pain is common with diabetic neuropathy and so is pain in the abdominal area.


Causes of and Prevention of Nerve Damage


Sometimes, diabetes is looked at with a fatalistic viewpoint - that if you have disease, the writing is on the wall. There’s a false belief is that you’re 100% for sure going to have the well-known complications the disease is famous for.


But your risk factors for getting neuropathy or having it worsen are under your control. You can’t fix what you’re not aware of. So if you had nerve damage before you were diagnosed, there’s not a lot that you can do about that.


However, if you have some damage already, it doesn’t have to progress. You can stop it from spreading to other parts of your body and affecting more of your organs. Your risk factor jumps considerably when you don’t have a diabetic treatment plan.


It’s a disease that doesn’t have to get the best of you, but it will if you don’t aggressively fight back. That means that you have to properly maintain your glucose levels. High numbers are the top thing that can lead to nerve damage that escalates as the years pass.


The higher your numbers, the more damage you’ll experience. But you don’t have to live that way. Diabetes itself won’t damage your body or shorten your life. Not taking care of yourself while having the disease is what will.


Check your BMI. If it’s higher than normal, get it down to a normal range for your weight and height. It’s true that diabetes has the ability to damage your nerves. It’s also true that it can happen without outward symptoms for years.


The damage can be going on silently and you might not even know it. But that’s why you should keep track of your glucose readings using your monitor. If you notice more readings that are in high ranges, that’s a sign that your nerve damage risk is elevated. By taking charge, you can end the damage before it’s too bad.

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