Everyone with diabetes has heard of neuropathy. It is estimated that half of the people with diabetes will experience this at some point in their lives. But can nerve damage actually be prevented? And how do you do that? We answer five pressing questions about neuropathy.
1. What is the relationship between type 2 diabetes and neuropathy?
High blood pressure is more common in people with diabetes type 2. This works your arteries less and can damage your nerves. The chance of nerve damage, also called neuropathy, is, therefore, higher if you have diabetes. But also a disturbed metabolism in the cell, saccharification of the nerve fibers, and hereditary predisposition can increase the risk of nerve damage. About one in five people with diabetes who suffers from nerve damage actually develop painful complaints as a result. Especially the vessels of the longest nerves, the sensation and movement nerves of the legs, are often the victims in people with diabetes.
2. How do you know if there is nerve damage?
Neuropathy can occur anywhere but in most people, it starts with complaints on their feet. Nerve damage can make you feel like you are ‘walking on cotton wool’ because you have less feeling in your feet. And that is dangerous because it causes wounds to be noticed too late or not at all and can then become infected. Wounds also heal less quickly because the blood circulation in the foot is not completely good. This creates a so-called diabetic foot. A tingling sensation, burning pain, feeling hot and cold no longer well, a feeling of pinpricks and electric shocks can also be signs that your nerves have been damaged. Never take these complaints about granted and always consult a doctor. Important, because people who suffer from serious infections, ulcers, and wounds and let nothing be done about them
3. Can the damage to your nerves repair?
No, unfortunately, diabetic neuropathy cannot be cured. Once your nerves are damaged, this cannot get better. However, there are treatments to reduce pain complaints. The treatments are mainly aimed at keeping the blood sugar level as stable as possible because that slows down the complaints. There are blood sugar-lowering tablets, insulin injections, and an insulin pump for this. There are also tablets that can slightly slow down nerve pain.
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4. Can neuropathy be prevented?
The main weapon against neuropathy is stable blood sugar. The less your blood sugar fluctuates, the less chance of nerve damage. While you can never fully control your blood sugar, you can do more than you think. A healthy lifestyle is very important.
5. What can you do yourself to reduce complaints?
The best tips are well known: eat healthy, lots of fiber, especially slow carbohydrates, avoid alcohol, don’t smoke, and always have breakfast. This way you keep your blood sugar as stable as possible. Getting enough exercise is just as important. If you have nerve pain in your feet, good sturdy shoes are a must. This reduces the risk of wounds. It is also wise to check regularly for cuts and bruises. Don’t just check your feet, but also your legs, arms, and hands. Do you have wounds? Do not keep walking around with it, but go to a diabetes nurse with complaints.