Peripheral neuropathy is the type of damage and restriction to the nervous system that occurs at the periphery of the body. Your body's heart and lungs work together with your central nervous system to power a very strong and sensitive set of nerves. This, of course, is centered in both the brain and the spinal cord, where most of the body's nerves end up receiving their signals. Unfortunately, improper diet, exercise, and blood sugar levels can break down this sophisticated nerve network. How bad can it get? Well, in a nutshell, you can lose feeling in your hands and feet, and possibly even experience paralysis. Some people have problems with their kidneys or experience side effects from chemotherapy.
However, the biggest factors are as mentioned above; diet and exercise. Some of the worst cases involve people who haven't been able to control their consumption of alcoholic beverages. It probably doesn't need to be said, but if you want to be healthy, don't drink alcohol to excess. As peripheral neuropathy worsens in the body, symptoms begin to multiply and worsen. At first, peripheral neuropathy starts out small; just those tingling sensations in the feet or possibly the hands. As always, symptoms can vary depending on what the underlying cause of the neuropathy is. Once it starts, it's imperative that you try to stop the process by eating well and exercising.
Some of the symptoms may include things like muscle weakness and cramps. Many of the people who experience peripheral neuropathy are older and sometimes not very active. This can make it harder to detect the onset of these problems. If you're in a group or population that has a high risk factor for these types of problems, it's important to stay vigilant and stay as healthy as possible. Unfortunately, there's also good potential for a “vicious cycle” to occur; a patient may have their mobility limited by things like muscle weakness and spasms, and that immobility may lead to more nerve damage. If things get worse, the twitching or weakness could lead to complete numbness or paralysis.
These sensations of “twitching” are not the only sensory factors of peripheral neuropathy. You may experience numbness or paresthesia (the sensation of pins and needles or tingling), as well as aching pain. People with advanced peripheral neuropathy sometimes have not only these sensations, but also feelings of burning pain. Sounds scary, and it is. In fact, there are cases where people have peripheral neuropathy so acute that they don't notice open sores or cuts on their feet. The havoc that unregulated blood sugar wreaks on the body is quite powerful. Many people with peripheral neuropathy have an inability to sweat properly, which leads to an intolerance to high levels of heat. Neuropathy and diabetes can wreak havoc on the bladder, which means the chances of infection go up. Not to mention the increased likelihood of having to wear Depends.
Blood pressure problems are no laughing matter.
Our sense of balance comes from things as diverse as the fluids in our ears and the sensation of the blood coursing through our veins, so when these factors are affected by blood pressure problems, our balance is affected as well. Often, people can become lightheaded or even faint because of complications from neuropathy. It doesn't just affect your balance; it can also affect your stomach in a myriad of ways. Your bowels and digestive system can be negatively affected by peripheral neuropathy. This can mean things like loose stools and diarrhea, or it can go the other way and cause constipation. The throat and digestive tract can swell or lose sensation. This can often cause problems with simply eating or swallowing food. Finally, peripheral neuropathy can get so bad that these symptoms can tax the body to a fatal level. Yes, you can have symptoms or situations from peripheral neuropathy that can be life threatening. If you feel like you have an irregular heartbeat, if you feel panicked or scared, or if you have trouble breathing, go to a doctor or hospital NOW. These types of events are not to be trifled with, and that is the real answer to “how bad can peripheral neuropathy get” – the answer is that it can endanger your life if you are not careful. So stay safe, eat healthy, stay fit, and follow your doctor's advice! Also, you might want to peruse the variety of neuropathy solutions we provide at our online store.