A long-term complication of diabetes for many people is the onset of peripheral neuropathy. This debilitating condition is caused by high blood sugar levels and leads to small blood vessel damage. When these injured blood vessels become impaired in their ability to supply nutrients and oxygen to nerve cells, neuropathic damage results. Lack of blood supply to critical areas can even contribute to nerve fiber disappearance.
Nerve damage leads to loss of mobility, balance issues, reduced independence, and even driver’s license suspension. But it doesn’t have to be this way. As a pharmacist, you’re uniquely positioned to reach out to patients managing diabetes and conditions related to it. You can encourage them to stay independent longer and keep their licenses through education coupled with a proactive therapeutic regimen.
Here are some things your patients need to know about neuropathy and driving.
Diabetes and INDEPENDENT LIVING
Diabetes can lead to various complications that directly impact driving ability. These include issues with mental processing, vision, and nerve damage in the hands and feet.
How does peripheral neuropathy impact driving? Peripheral nerve damage and, more specifically, foot neuropathy can make it difficult to properly gauge the pressure exerted on the clutch, brake, and accelerator pedals.
Moreover, medications that address neuropathic pain (e.g., amitriptyline and gabapentin) can have sedative properties. As a result, operating a motor vehicle under their influence can be dangerous. Yet, to date, no formal studies have fully explored the implications of driving with peripheral neuropathy.
Steps to Help Patients Keep Their Driver’s Licenses
Driving remains a vital part of preserving independence, and it helps take the burden off caregivers. Patients with driver’s licenses can get to and from doctor appointments, pick up their medications, stock their refrigerators, and more.
But how do we encourage diabetic patients to make healthier life choices? For many, keeping their license provides a tangible goal. It also represents an excellent way to start conversations with your patients.
A simple question like, “How did you get here today?” can launch a dialogue about diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, and what steps individual patients can take to stay independent longer.
You should also reiterate the importance of eating healthy, exercising daily, and managing glucose levels with the proper medication for optimal benefits. But patients also need to get proactive about managing the symptoms of neuropathy.
Neuropathy and Driving
While many individuals with diabetes have already heard about healthy eating and the importance of daily exercise, they may know very little about preventing or managing diabetic peripheral neuropathy. As a medical authority, you can provide them with the latest in neuropathy research so they can stay independent longer.
Fortunately, people suffering from peripheral neuropathy related to diabetes are often excellent candidates for the NeuropaCalm Care Program. Our comprehensive program contains everything your patients need to successfully manage the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy at home.
The NeuropaCalm Care Program is convenient, affordable, and highly effective. Ready to find out more? Schedule a call to learn about this revolutionary approach to managing the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.