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10 Fast facts about neuropathy

Neuropathy is one of the most common diabetes-related complications. It occurs when the tiny blood vessels that supply your entire nervous system with blood are damaged. Here’s some more information to help you understand it better.

Symptoms of neuropathy

If your blood sugar is high for a long time, it increases your risk of developing neuropathy. Smoking and excessive drinking are also risk factors.  

Symptoms to look out for:

  • Tingling or numbness in your hands and feet
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Muscle weakness
  • Changes in vision
  • Erectile dysfunction

If you experience any of these symptoms, visit your doctor as soon as you can.

Understand the basics

Diabetic neuropathy is the most common complication of diabetes. Neuropathy is short for “peripheral neuropathy” which means nerve damage in the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system includes all the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord, and connects the central nervous system to the hands, legs and organs.

Diabetic neuropathy is caused from damage to the small blood vessels that supply the nerves. Blood vessels are damaged by high blood glucose levels, having diabetes for many years and abnormal blood fat levels.

Smoking and excessive alcohol use can also be causes, as can mechanical injury to the nerves (like carpal tunnel syndrome).

Some common signs of peripheral neuropathy are sharp, jabbing pain that may get worse at night, and pain when walking.

Can neuropathy be cured?

Diabetic neuropathy can’t be cured, but there are treatments to help the symptoms. The best treatment is good blood sugar control, which will prevent the condition from getting any worse. Nerve health and vitamin B are closely related, so sometimes taking a Vitamin B supplement can help – read more about that here.

Do you have neuropathy? Want to talk about it? Please join our community on Facebook – South Africans with Diabetes. You’re not alone in this!

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Ramesh Iyer and Dim Hou on Unsplash

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  1. Theresa Hugo Theresa Hugo

    I am t2 an have been diagnosed with diabetic neuropathy
    the pain in my back and legs is unbearable.
    On Tegretol cr 300 for the past 7 days and praying for the promised relief.
    blood sugars seem to be under control for this week at least. …
    thanks for the information

    • Good luck, Theresa! That sounds so painful… I really hope the pain relief comes quickly!

  2. I just ordered steel insoles as suggested by my doctor for painful arthritis in my feet. The ordering process was quick and easy. The price for the insoles ($37.97) was high for what it is, just two thin pieces of steel shaped like a foot and covered with fabric; they slip inside my shoes. The fabric adhesive on the steel insole came loose at one spot on the edge of the heel, after wearing them just a few times. That will definitely be a problem if it continues to loosen, because it becomes sticky. The insoles do seem to help somewhat. They do not alleviate my foot pain completely, but orthofeet do help.

    • Peripheral Neuropathy is a terrible and dibilitating disease. But there is a way to reverse nueropathy and its giving back people their lives. Come see our patients and testimonials.

      • Peter Peter

        What is the way to reverse neuropathy? I thought it was irreversible.

        • It is irreversible as far as I know – but the impacts can be lessened by the right medication and keeping blood sugar as stable as possible.

  3. […] in men: neuropathy (which causes pain in the feet) and erectile dysfunction. Find out about neuropathy here, and erectile dysfunction here. Even if you are experiencing diabetes complications, there is still […]

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Sweet Life is a registered NPO/PBO (220-984) with a single goal: to improve diabetes in South Africa. We are funded by sponsorships and donations from aligned companies and organisations who believe in our work. We only share information that we believe benefits our community. While some of this information is linked to specific brands, it is not an official endorsement of that brand. We believe in empowering people with diabetes to make the best decisions they can, to live a healthy, happy life with diabetes.