How to Prevent Diabetic Neuropathy (Infographic)

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Diabetes is undoubtedly one of the leading causes of nerve damage, and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future as it becomes an epidemic. Diabetic neuropathy means loss of sensation in the feet and perhaps even the hands. Disturbances in the functioning of the autonomic nervous system lead to various problems of the internal organs, such as reduced exercise tolerance, excessive sweating. Diabetic neuropathy increases the risk of silent heart attacks. Lower limb trauma is more common due to decreased sensation in the feet. In fact, diabetes is the leading non-traumatic cause of limb amputation. Although neuropathy is present in up to 70% of cases of diabetes, the cause is not fully understood; neuropathy in diabetes may be caused by a combination of factors.

  • Prolonged insulin deficiency, elevated blood glucose levels, and dyslipidemia (high levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides) may be the main causes of nerve damage.
  • Vascular damage in diabetes leads to interruption of blood supply to nerves.
  • Lifestyle factors such as alcohol abuse or smoking can make the condition worse.

Prevent Diabetic Neuropathy Infographic

Prevention of diabetic neuropathy

Diabetes and related neuropathy are highly preventable diseases. It is important to understand that diabetes is primarily a lifestyle disease. Therefore, by taking certain steps, one can either prevent or at least delay the onset of nerve damage in diabetes.

Keep your blood glucose level under control

This is undoubtedly the most important and effective measure you can take to prevent nerve damage. For adequate blood glucose control, take insulin or oral hypoglycemic agents on time. Regular self-monitoring of blood glucose must be an essential part of any self-care program. It is important to understand that in chronic disease, the healthcare professional is more of a consultant and it is the duty of the person with the disease to be proactive. Keeping blood glucose levels below target can prevent neuropathy in the majority of cases.

Eat healthy diet

The first thing to remember is to limit carbohydrates and sugary drinks. When it comes to fats, it is important to consume high quality fats as they have a beneficial effect on nerve health. Omega fatty acids have been shown in several clinical studies to help with nerve conditions. Fatty fish, seafood, soybeans, flaxseed oil, and walnuts are some of the foods rich in omega fatty acids.

Exercise regularly

Exercise improves balance, muscle strength, and blood flow to the nerves, thus slowing down nerve degeneration. Begin exercise with stretching and warming up. Make sure you get at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, such as running or swimming, five times a week.

Reaching a healthy weight

Obesity is a leading risk factor for diabetes. Several diabetes prevention and control studies have shown that losing as little as 5-7% of excess body weight can halt the progression of the disease in the majority of cases.

Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol

Both nicotine and alcohol are known to damage the nerves. Nicotine is considered particularly harmful to nerves and small blood vessels, and heavy smoking has been directly linked to chronic leg ulcers, even in the absence of diabetes. High alcohol consumption leads to deficiencies in certain vitamins and other metabolic disorders that are harmful to nerve health.

Manage your stress

Chronic stress is another epidemic of the 21st century. Humans are well adapted to short-term stress conditions, but prolonged periods of stress alter the neuroendocrine system. Chronic stress affects the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis, which increases glucocorticoid levels. Stress leads to salt retention and high blood pressure. Practicing Tai Chi or Yoga can be good options for stress management and health benefits.

Food care and prevention of amputations

As diabetes remains the leading cause of non-traumatic foot amputation, it is important to take steps to prevent lower extremity trauma. Some of the simple steps listed below can help prevent amputations in most cases.

  • Check your feet daily for any cuts or sores, and remember not to neglect even the smallest injury, as healing is slow with diabetes and the risk of developing an infection is quite high.
  • Regular checkups by a podiatrist can help detect neuropathy or other problems early. Remember, a professional's eyes can see what others cannot.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. Take special precautions to avoid blisters on new shoes. Always wear socks and never go barefoot. Neuropathy reduces the feeling that the surface (such as beach sand) is too hot and damaging.
  • Treat blisters, swelling, and toenail infections right away.

Blood vessel and nerve disease are two of the most common long-term complications of diabetes. Fortunately, these complications are highly preventable with lifestyle changes and simple precautions.

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Can nerve damage in the feet occur in absence of diabetic condition.esapcially burning feet syndrome.

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