Neuropathy is the medical term for damage to the nerves of the peripheral nervous system. Approximately 30% of neuropathies are ‘idiopathic’, meaning the cause is unknown. Diabetic neuropathy is usually as a result of serious complication from diabetes and usually damages nerves that are located in the legs and feet.
Depending on the affected nerves, symptoms of diabetic neuropathy can range from pain or numbness in the extremities to problems with the digestive system, urinary tract, blood vessels and heart. For some people, these symptoms are mild; for others, diabetic neuropathy can be painful, disabling and even fatal.
Most people with diabetic neuropathy are unaware that they have nerve damage, until it is picked up on routine screening by a doctor or when complications develop. Although there is no cure, early diagnosis and treatment can improve quality of life and reduce the risk of further complications. Diabetic neuropathy can be prevented, or its progress slowed, with tight blood sugar control and a healthy lifestyle.
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