Diabetic Neuropathy Overview | Dr. Harry Cotler

WHAT IS DIABETIC NEUROPATHY?

Diabetic neuropathies are a family of nerve disorders caused by diabetes. Diabetic patients are at risk for many related disorders including diabetic neuropathy. Over time, diabetics develop nerve damage throughout their entire body that affects the digestive, circulatory and nervous systems. Diabetic neuropathy may or may not produce any symptoms. 

It is estimated that about 65% of diabetics have diabetic neuropathy. The condition can develop at any time, without warning. Diabetic neuropathy seems to slowly progress and is prevalent in diabetics who have had the disease for 20 years or longer. Diabetic neuropathy is also more common in diabetics who do not control their blood sugar. Diabetic neuropathy can diminish the capabilities of the patient to the point where they cannot care for themselves.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF DIABETIC NEUROPATHY?

The symptoms that do present themselves are pain, tingling, loss of feeling or numbness – in the feet, legs, hands, and arms. The symptoms of diabetic neuropathy will depend on the affected area of the body. 

Symptoms include:

  • Indigestion or vomiting
  • Numbness of the extremities
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Weakness a severe drop in blood pressure after standing up (which results in severe dizziness or fainting). 

The symptoms are mild at first but increase in frequency and intensity over time. Diabetic neuropathy is a progressive disease that takes a long time to fully develop. It may take years for the symptoms to become severe enough to spur a trip to the doctor. In general, diabetics should have annual visits with several types of physicians, including a podiatrist.This approach ensures that the patient gets a 360-degree view of their condition.

WHAT ARE SOME OTHER FOOT RELATED RISKS?

In addition to diabetic neuropathy, diabetics are at great risk for other foot related conditions. Diabetics heal very slowly and are at great risk for infection, so it is critical that these conditions are addressed at the very first symptom. 

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO MITIGATE THESE RISK?

An annual checkup with your podiatrist will ensure that the diabetic will reduce their risk of diabetic related foot disorders. This will allow any conditions to be treated early, avoiding serious measures such as amputation. Podiatrists are the experts in diabetic foot care. They can identify conditions such as diabetic neuropathy when only a few symptoms exist. This is critical to maintaining foot health for diabetics, who frequently experience amputations due to infections in the extremities.

Dr. Harry Cotler is part of the Physicians Footcare team and is seeing patients in Beaufort, N. Charleston and the Summerville locations.  For more information check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/physiciansfootcare/ or our website https://physiciansfootcare.com/.