One complication from which a Type II diabetic suffers is diabetic neuropathy, which damages the nervous system. Diabetic neuropathy is a progressive condition. Its symptoms only get worse eventually. Generally, neuropathy takes place when there are high levels of sugar or fats in the blood. Elevated amounts of these substances in your system damage your nerves. Numerous symptoms manifest this condition.
The following are the different types of neuropathy that affect the nervous system:
1. Mononeuropathies—affects individual nerves
2. Proximal (lumbar root and thoracic) neuropathy—damages the nerve located in a specific region of the body (legs, chest wall)
3. Autonomic neuropathy—happens in the autonomic nervous system, which controls the systems of the body that operate unconsciously (heart rate, urination, arousal, digestion, and fight or flight)
4. Peripheral symmetric neuropathy—affects the hands and feet
–the most common type of neuropathy
It takes years before diabetic neuropathy’s signs and symptoms to manifest themselves. They depend on the nerves affected and the type of neuropathy.
• Autonomic neuropathy
o Bloating or heartburn
o Muscle contractions
o Drooping of eyelids and face
o Unaware of having hypoglycemia
o Difficulty in swallowing or speaking
o Sexual dysfunction in women and men
o Immediately feeling full after eating a little
o Vomiting hours after eating
o Inability to empty the bladder while urinating (leads to incontinence)
o Light-headedness and dizziness when you stand up (orthostatic hypotension)
o Sweating excessively while resting or in cool weather
o Unusually fast heart rate
• Peripheral neuropathy
o Burning sensations, numbness, and tingling sensations in fingers and toes radiating to the arms and legs, then up to the feet and legs
o Charcot’s joint (the breakdown of a joint, usually in the feet)
o Inability to feel physical injury, heat, or cold
o Decrease of muscle tome in feet and hands
As peripheral neuropathy gets worse, the person has more difficulty walking and standing. It also increases the risk of experiencing falls. The loss of sensation in the extremities could result in untreated wounds and ulcerations, which eventually become infected. Gangrene would eventually set in and this usually results in amputation.
• Proximal neuropathy. This type of neuropathy usually results in one-sided lower body pain and leg weakness.
• Focal and cranial neuropathy. These two neuropathies can result in visual disorders like double vision.
Often, people diagnosed with diabetic neuropathy don’t know about their condition until it has already progressed too much. It helps to have regular checkups for feet and hands to tend to wounds immediately. If you have been diagnosed with Type II diabetes, it is vital for you to talk to your doctor about regulating your cholesterol and blood glucose levels.