Diabetic neuropathy is a serious condition that impacts more than 50 percent of those diagnosed with diabetes, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. The disease can lead to irreversible nerve damage due to high blood sugar levels. The nerves typically damaged by diabetic peripheral neuropathy are located in the legs and feet, but they may also be in the bladder, kidneys, and other parts of the body.
Patients diagnosed with diabetes who are experiencing numbness or pain in their legs and feet walk into your facility daily. So do their caregivers. It’s time to have a discussion with them about diabetic neuropathy and how to manage it. Other symptoms of this condition may include problems with the heart, blood vessels, or urinary tract. And while the red flags of diabetic neuropathy can prove deceptively mild for some individuals (at least, initially), others may experience severe and disabling issues. Left untreated, a painful and debilitating decline will continue.
Here’s what your patients need to know about this condition and the therapeutic management options your facility can offer them.
Diabetic Neuropathy: What to Know
Your patients and their caregivers need to understand that diabetic neuropathy symptoms typically come on gradually. Because of this slow onset, significant nerve damage may occur before a formal diagnosis gets made.
There are four main types of diabetic neuropathy, and they include:
These different types of neuropathy impact the body in unique ways, and patients may get diagnosed with more than one version of the condition.
Risk Factors for Diabetic Neuropathy
While those with diabetes may develop neuropathy, doctors have identified risk factors that increase the level of nerve damage patients endure. These factors include:
Other risk factors associated with diabetic neuropathy include kidney damage, often resulting from diabetes. When damage occurs, the body may release toxins into the bloodstream, further exacerbating kidney issues. Having a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher may also contribute to diabetic neuropathy, as does smoking, which hardens and narrows arteries, reducing blood flow to the legs and feet.
Complications of Diabetic Neuropathy
Serious complications may result from diabetic neuropathy, and yet many patients remain unaware of the threats they face if the condition goes unchecked. For example, diabetic neuropathy may lead to hypoglycemia unawareness. This condition results when blood sugar levels drop below 70 milligrams per deciliter, and symptoms include sweating, a fast heartbeat, and shakiness.
Diabetic neuropathy may also lead to urinary tract infections or incontinence when the bladder’s nerves get damaged. This may impact a patient’s ability to know when they need to go. The condition may also lead to sharp decreases in blood pressure, contributing to dizziness and fainting spells. Some patients also experience sexual dysfunction, changes in perspiration patterns, and digestive problems, including indigestion and bloating. In the most severe cases, amputation in the lower extremities may be required.
How to Manage Diabetic Neuropathy
Nevertheless, patients should understand there’s hope for diabetic neuropathy, especially peripheral neuropathy. The condition may be prevented through proper foot care and blood sugar management. And for those already suffering, symptomatic relief for nerve damage and restored quality of life are possible.
Staying proactive proves key, and that’s where you come in. Offer your patients and their caregivers the NeuropaCalm Care Program, a therapeutic and patient-centered approach to improving circulation and cell regeneration. Contact us today to find out more about how to add value to your pharmacy or clinic while providing your patients with better care.