The high blood sugar from diabetes affects the nerves and over time increases a person's risk for nerve damage. Keeping blood sugar levels within the target range recommended by your doctor helps prevent diabetic neuropathy.
With peripheral neuropathy, people experience a decrease in sensation or even numbness as well as trouble moving the feet and, later on, the fingers and hands. As a result of this neuropathy, many people with diabetes can't feel when they have injured their feet, and they may not know if calluses or ulcers form. Because of the risk of serious foot injury and infection, it is very important that people with diabetes learn how to examine their feet daily, wear shoes that fit well, and protect their feet from injury.
Diabetes can affect the autonomic nervous system, which are nerves that we can't consciously control. The autonomic nervous system controls many aspects of the body's functioning, such as heart rate and blood pressure, the workings of the gastrointestinal system, and sexual function.
Sometimes, single nerves can be affected by diabetes (focal neuropathy). These nerves may be peripheral, such as the nerves in the legs and arms, or cranial, such as the nerves that control eye movements.
When single nerves become affected, the result is weakness or paralysis of the muscles controlled by the nerves. Usually these motor nerve neuropathies resolve by themselves over a period of several months.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Barrie J. Hurwitz, MD - Neurology|
|Last Revised||April 12, 2012|
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