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How Does Diabetes Affect The Nervous System

Causes Of Diabetic Neuropathy

How does Diabetes Affect the Nervous System?

The nervous system consists of bundles of neurons, the cells that send signals throughout your brain and body. Each individual neuron is small and delicate, requiring a constant stream of oxygen and glucose to survive and function properly. People with diabetes have high blood sugar making blood vessel walls weaker. This particularly affects capillaries, the tiny blood vessels that serve the nerve fibers. As a result, nerves do not receive the nutrients they need and may begin to undergo dysfunction and/or deterioration.

Additionally, the presence of too much glucose in the blood can affect the nervous system as excess glucose may disrupt the ability of neurons to effectively send their signals. This is another contributor to neuropathy. In some cases, the immune system may inappropriately target neurons, leading to inflammation that damages the nerves. This can exacerbate diabetic neuropathy and contribute to additional pain.

What Is The Outlook

The outcome can be good if diabetic neuropathy is diagnosed and treated early. Early treatment for any foot problems will also help to improve the outcome.

However, diabetic neuropathy can progress and cause severe problems and even early death. These problems may include foot problems and an increased risk of needing removal of a foot or part of the leg .

Diabetic neuropathy is also associated with other diabetes complications .

What Is Diabetic Neuropathy

Neuropathy is the name for nerve damage. Nerve damage can take the form of sensory neuropathy, motor neuropathy or autonomic neuropathy.

Neuropathy is understood to be present in up to 50% of people with diabetes.

Nerve damage in the feet is particularly dangerous for people with diabetes, putting us at a higher risk of foot damage which could lead to amputation

As neuropathy is common in diabetes, we are advised to check our feet regularly.

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Interventions For Better Pain Management

Your doctor may recommend other treatments for pain, such as physical therapy or acupuncture. By alleviating pain, these therapies may help you better get to sleep and stay asleep. Some patients also find that capsaicin cream, made with the chemical that makes chili peppers hot, can lessen the painful symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. You may need to experiment with several treatments before you find a combination that works best for you.

Your doctor may also recommend certain medications to alleviate pain associated with diabetic neuropathy. For example, antidepressant medications such as tricyclics or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors may be effective at boosting serotonin levels in the brain, which can alleviate pain. These medications can also improve sleep quality for some individuals.

Other medications may include anti-epilepsy medications. Over-the-counter pain medications may also be useful for managing diabetic neuropathy symptoms that affect your sleep. Working in consultation with your diabetes doctor and a sleep specialist is the best way to find pain and sleep treatments that work.

If you are experiencing diabetic neuropathy and sleep problems, there are treatments that can help. The first step is to undergo an evaluation at your Seattle sleep center, where we will make an accurate diagnosis of your sleep difficulties. Then, we provide personalized treatment recommendations to help you manage your pain and sleep difficulties.

Further Reading

Bladder And Sex Organs

How Does Diabetes Affect the Nervous System?

Uncontrolled blood sugar forces your bladder to handle a lot of urine because your body retains more fluid. You may wake often at night to use the bathroom. The interrupted sleep can be one reason diabetes leaves you tired.

Or diabetes can damage your nerves so you wont feel that your bladder is full. You could leak pee. Weakened urinary muscles can make it harder for you to empty your bladder fully. Or you may pee too much.

Poor bladder control, plus high blood sugar and immune system problems, can lead to urinary tract infections .

When it comes to sex, men with diabetes are three times more likely to have trouble getting or keeping an erection . For women, their sex drive could drop, lubrication drops, and sex may hurt. Lowered blood flow or nerve problems could make it harder to have an orgasm.

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How Can I Prevent Kidney Disease And Other Problems From Diabetes

Controlling blood sugar is the best way to protect your eyes, heart, nerves, feet, and kidneys. It lowers your risk for all health problems from diabetes. This is true for all people with diabetes with or without kidney damage. Ask your healthcare provider what you need to do to control your blood sugar.

The Many Factors That Lead To Diabetic Nerve Pain

Diabetic peripheral neuropathyDPN for shortis diabetes-related damage to nerves that sit near the surface of your skin. DPN usually affects the feet and the hands but can also harm nerves in arms and legs.

Approximately 50 percent of people with;type 2 diabetes;and 20% of those with;type 1 diabetes;develop this kind of nerve damage.1; DPN;can be extremely painfulor cause numbness so that you have little feeling, especially in your feet.

Diabetic neuropathy occurs in two different types of nerves close to the surface of your skin. DPN can affect small nerves that protect your body by sending signals about pain and temperature changes to your brain. This condition can also attack large nerves that detect touch, pressure and help you keep your balance.2;Symptoms are different for each type of neuropathy but most people with DPN have damage that occurs to both types of nerves.

This diabetes-related complication usually affects extremitiesfeet, hands, legs and armswhere nerve fibers are the longest and most numerous.2

Causes;Experts are still investigating exactly;how;diabetes harms and kills these nerve cells. The causes remain unknown,1 according to findings shared in a position paper issued by the American Diabetes Association .

The major threats are:

However, the nerves get damaged, the end result is the same:;they arent able to convey messages as well as they should to the brain, and they lose their ability to help you feel and move.

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How To Find Relief If You Already Have Neuropathy

If youre already suffering from neuropathy, Dr.Bolash says some of the best ways to find relief include:

  • Oral medications, including prescription antidepressants and anticonvulsants, can reduce the sensation of pain. .
  • Topical medications can target pain thats located in a small area.
  • Nerve stimulation is an advanced treatment that can make a big difference and improve function in cases of more severe pain. This treatment can be applied to the skin or placed along the spinal cord to change unpleasant pain into something more tolerable. Recent evidence suggests that spinal cord stimulation may be even more effective then managing the pain with medications.

Stimulation doesnt fix the damage from diabetes,says Dr. Bolash. It tricks the brains ability to sense pain.

If you have diabetes, discuss any nerve pain with yourprimary care physician and be sure to be;screened for diabeticcomplications.

Physicians can actually diagnose neuropathy before youfeel it and early intervention can make a substantial difference. The soonernerve damage is detected, the easier it can be treated.

How Does Diabetes Affect People

Endocrine system and diabetes

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which there is increased blood glucose level. Now although there is excess of glucose in blood, the cells are not able to utilize that glucose. The cells are actually starving. Here comes the role of insulin. Insulin facilitates the intake of glucose by the cells. Almost all the cells in our body have these receptors. In diabetes mellitus there is insulin deficiency due to which cells are not able to utilize glucose. This insulin deficiency can be absolute or relative. I will not go into the details of the various causes of insulin deficiency. Let’s just focus on what happens when cells cannot utilize glucose and there is excess of glucose in the blood. Excess of glucose in blood results in excess of glucose in urine. Glucose is a sugar and it produces osmotic effect due to which water and electrolytes of the urine are also increased. Hence there is polyuria along with polydypsia. If this persists the patient might go into shock. As the cells cannot utilize glucose the liver starts producing ketone bodies as a source of energy. Excessive formation of ketone bodies may lead to ketoacidosis. Long term diabetes may lead to microangiopathies like diabetic retinopathy, diabetic nephropathy and diabetic neuropathy.Continue reading >>

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Improving Other Risk Factors

Although getting blood glucose under control is important, it might not be enough. It is also important to control other risk factors such as high triglycerides or cholesterol, treat high blood pressure and quit smoking. Daily aerobic exercises are shown to protect the nerves and improve neuropathy outcomes. Losing weight is also important if a patient is obese or overweight.

How Does Diabetes Trigger Neuropathy

Medical professionals are still trying to determine how diabetes harms nerve cells. High blood sugar levels seem to be responsible for killing off these nerve cells. Other factors such as damage to the blood vessels caused by high cholesterol, injuries brought on by carpal tunnel, habitual smoking or alcohol use, obesity, and high triglycerides may also result in diabetic neuropathy. Keeping blood sugar levels under control by exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and quitting smoking may prevent or slow the progression of developing this condition.;

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Overseeing Diabetic Neuropathy Intricacies

Counteractive action

You can forestall or postpone diabetic neuropathy and its intricacies by keeping tight control of your blood sugar and taking great consideration of your feet.

Blood sugar control

Utilize an at-home blood sugar screen to check your blood sugar and ensure it reliably remains inside objective range. Its essential to do this on calendar. Moves in blood sugar levels can quicken nerve harm.

Foot care

Pursue your primary care physicians suggestions for good foot care.

Foot issues, including injuries that dont recuperate, ulcers and even removal, are a typical confusion of diabetic neuropathy. In any case, you can avoid a considerable lot of these issues by having a far reaching foot test in any event once per year, having your primary care physician check your feet at every office visit and taking great consideration of your feet at home.

To secure the well-being of your feet:

On the off chance that issues do happen, your primary care physician can help treat them to counteract progressively genuine conditions. Indeed, even little injuries can rapidly transform into serious diseases whenever left untreated.

A person suffering from diabetes has high blood sugar level and when this blood sugar level is not maintained properly it affects different parts of the body including the nervous system. When you have diabetes your body may not be able to produce enough insulin or it may not be able to utilize the insulin effectively.

Respiratory Responses And Arrest


Sudden respiratory arrests have been described in diabetic patients with autonomic neuropathy. In most of these episodes, there was some interference with respiration either by anaesthesia or drugs, or bronchopneumonia. These episodes are transient, and although temporary assisted ventilation may be needed, recovery to normal health is expected. Anaesthetists need to be forewarned of this possibility when patients with symptomatic autonomic neuropathy require even minor surgery. Whether respiratory arrest is responsible for the sudden unexplained deaths reported in diabetic patients with autonomic neuropathy is unclear,6465 but we suspect, from clinical observation, that it might be.

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The Link Between Diabetic Neuropathy And Sleep

Diabetes does not just disrupt your blood sugar but can also have a serious impact on your sleep. Diabetic neuropathy symptoms wax and wane throughout the day, but they are often worse at night. In some severe forms of the condition, people say that even the feeling of a sheet on their body is unbearable. This is because of the heightened sensitivity to pain observed in peripheral neuropathy.

Like other causes of pain, there is a two-way relationship between diabetes and sleep. First, diabetic neuropathy leads to uncomfortable pain that is often worse at night. This makes it difficult for people with neuropathy to fall asleep and maintain high quality sleep. As a result, you may feel unrested and chronically tired in the morning. These feelings of chronic fatigue actually make pain worse, meaning that you are likely to experience another poor night of sleep. Finding effective treatments for diabetic neuropathy and sleep problems is the best way to break this cycle.

Slowing The Progression Of The Disease:

The main aim should be to keep the blood glucose levels under constant control. That can help not only in the delaying of the condition but can also help in the prevention of the same.

As per the MayoClinic, the range of blood sugar that should be followed should be as follows:

  • If you are someone who has diabetes and are below 60 years of age, the blood glucose levels should be between 80 and 120 mg/dL, or 4.4 and 6.7 mmol/L.
  • If you are anywhere above 60, the blood glucose levels should be between 100 and 140 mg/dL, or 5.6 and 7.8 mmol/L. This also should be the blood glucose level if you have complications related to your kidney, heart or even lungs.

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How Does Long Term Antidepressant Use Affect The Nervous System

Insofar as I am aware, there is not a lot of evidence for any damaging long-term effects of common antidepressants on the adult nervous system . It is important to remember that the effects of stress and depression on the nervous system are numerous – but it is currently not accepted that antidepressants also damage the nervous system . A well-controlled study measuring this is very difficult to do, though, and so things may change. Having said that, it is accepted that antidepressant drugs do cause changes in the brain that counteract the brain changes associated with depression . . More generally, antidepressant drugs work by increasing levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain . In many people, this chemical change causes them to perceive the world in a slightly less negative light – ambiguous feedback is received more positively, someone forgetting to reply to their email is interpreted less personally. *However* – and this is a CRUCIAL point – antidepressant drugs are powerful pharmaceuticals and can cause serious side effects in some people, like all drugs. For some people, they are life-savers; for others, extremelContinue reading >>

How Does Diabetes Cause Neuropathy

DEC Sugar Talk: Diabetes and the Autonomic Nervous System

A common misconception about diabetes is that it is a painless condition that presents little to no risks or concerns. Patients who have diabetes often report feeling a tingling sensation in their toes or pain in their feet. Diabetic neuropathy is a common complication associated with diabetes whose symptoms range from slightly aggravating to potentially life-threatening.

At Commonwealth Pain and Spine, our health specialists can evaluate your symptoms and determine if your diabetes is causing neuropathy.;

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Nerve Damage Due To Diabetes

Peripheral neuropathy is damage to nerves in theperipheral nervous system, the set of connections that link nerveimpulses between the central nervous system andthe outlying areas of the body. Although it is not entirely clear whydiabetes causes nerve damage, it is thought to be a result of poorlycontrolled blood sugar over a long period of time.

There are three general types of nerves that can bedamaged in peripheral neuropathiesthe sensory, autonomic, and motornerves. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy that affects the sensorynerves results in symptoms such as numbness, tingling, increasedsensitivity to touch, and burning in the feet, legs, hands, and arms.When autonomic nerves are damaged, symptoms include problems withdigestion, breathing, vision, heartbeat, sexual function, and bladdercontrol. Motor nerve damage can be seen in patients with muscleweakness, cramping, or twitching.

How Can Diabetic Neuropathy Cause Both Numbness And Pain

Diabetes like hypertension is a silent killer. It destroys your blood vessels . Even the best controlled diabetes still has wild oscillations in blood sugar levels. Recently we had a lecture by our visiting American ophthalmologist on the subject of diabetic ophthalmopathy and he killed us with the statement that ordinary unregulated diabetics have disastrous eye complications. Well-regulated diabetics still get eye problems but at a much smaller levels. With all the pin-pricks, testing, meticulous regulation of anti-diabetics and insulin, blood glucose still damages blood vessels. Similar thing happens with nerves. In the worst-case scenario the nerves goes dead. If sensitive nerve , if motor nerve . Problem is with quite frequent intermediate stages where people feel pins and needles, pain, etc. Obviously the damage to the nerve is of a various degree. I believe that most of it is reversible. A diabetic or pre-diabetic should remove carbs completely from the diet . Just remove ALL carbs. Beware of liquid carbs . One should immediately notice that its possible to reduce or even completely remove anti-diabetic medications and reduce or occasionally remove insulin. Ron Hunter’s answer to How long can someone do a “no-carbs” diet which completely cuts carbohydrate intake before some problems/health conditions occur? He is clear, short and up-to-the-point. Worth reading!Continue reading >>

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Pain And Sleep: Diabetic Neuropathy

May 31, 2017 by Sound Sleep Health

According to the American Diabetes Association diabetes affects more than 29.1 million Americans, approximately 9.3% of the population. Diabetes is an endocrine disorder, meaning that it affects hormone levels. Although much of the attention is paid to the effects of diabetes on the blood sugar levels and the cardiovascular system, diabetes can also harshly affect sleep. One of the most common complications of diabetes is known as diabetic neuropathy, a pain condition that can disrupt the sleep cycle.


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