Is Peripheral Neuropathy Reversible in Diabetic?

Poorly-controlled high blood sugar in the diabetics can lead to numerous different complications. Large quantities of glucose (sugar) in the blood can also affect peripheral nervous system, causing a condition called peripheral neuropathy. Some treatments are available to cope with this complication. But is it reversible?

Diabetes complications are serious!

There are many health problems associated with diabetes. In other words, peripheral neuropathy is not the only one. The good news, diabetic complications are preventable. There are plenty of options to delay or prevent the onset of these complications.

If you’re a diabetic, as long as you can control your blood sugar there should be nothing to worry! On the other hand, chronic high blood sugar is the starting point for diabetic complications to develop which some can be life-threatening.

Currently, diabetes has no cure but it’s manageable. Many diabetics are still able to have a good quality of life and keep productive – though managing diabetes is also challenging and requires constant commitment.

The following are some serious diabetic complications:

Hypertension or high blood pressure

Chronic high blood sugar in diabetics can increase the risk of hypertension or other circulation problems. Higher than normal blood sugar can hurt blood vessels and cause a condition called atherosclerosis, hardening arteries.

In fact, most diabetics also have hypertension. And hypertension is often to blame for the reason behind other diabetic complications. Diabetes can also significantly raise the risk of numerous different cardiovascular diseases such as heart diseases, coronary artery disease, and stroke.

Kidney disease

When insulin, hormone produced and released from pancreas, is not able to control blood sugar as well, the kidneys will work harder than usual in order to help remove excess sugar through urine and you may pass more urine (frequent urination). Over time, this more aggressive job can hurt the kidneys.

Furthermore, hypertension due to diabetes may also affect the blood flow to the kidneys, making them work much harder. To work efficiently, the kidneys need particular rate of blood flow running from the heart to the kidneys. And hypertension can disturb this rule!

Eye problems or even blindness

Some eye problems such as blurred vision, cataract, retinopathy, and glaucoma can be a consequence of poorly-controlled diabetes. Even diabetics are also at high risk of blindness – this risk is higher if compared in non-diabetics.

The good news, eye problems in most diabetics are minor. Nevertheless, it’s still important for them to check their eyes regularly. This is important to avoid the risk of having serious eye problems. In fact, having diabetes is still one of the leading causes of blindness in adults.

Diabetic ketoacidosis

It’s life-threatening diabetic complication since it can lead to coma or even death. It occurs when the body cannot process glucose for energy. High blood sugar can be severe enough to make cells of the body get very low glucose for energy.

To cope with this deficiency, the body can burn fat for energy and cause byproduct called ketones. And high accumulation of ketones in the body is toxic, and this can be high enough to cause diabetic ketoacidosis.

Alzheimer’s disease

Some studies suggest that diabetes may contribute to raise the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, especially for type 2 diabetes. This risk is greater in those with poorly-controlled diabetes. This link is not fully known, though some theories have been proposed.

Other diabetic complications include skin problems (such as easy to get infected or wound that is difficult to heal), hearing problems, the risk of foot damage, gastroparesis (delayed gastric emptying), and hyperosmolar hyperglycemic nonketotic syndrome (a kind of severe dehydration that may lead to coma or even death).

What is peripheral neuropathy?

Neuropathy means nerve damage. And peripheral neuropathy is a group of problems in which the peripheral nervous system, the complex network of nerves, is damaged. Diabetes mellitus is the leading cause of peripheral neuropathy.

But the problem also has a wide range of other causes. These include exposure to toxins, infections, and traumatic injuries. In some cases, it may occur due to inherited causes. The age also has an effect on the risk (the risk increases with age). In fact, peripheral neuropathy becomes more common as people age.

What is the peripheral nervous system?

Peripheral nervous system has important function to send information from the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) to the rest of the body. It also relays information from other parts of the body to the central nervous system. It lies outside the central nervous system – it hosts lots of nerves outside the brain and spinal cord.

It consists of some different types of nerves that have specific functions, such as:

  1. Autonomic nerves to regulate some automatic functions of the body. For instance, they are important to help regulate your bladder function and blood pressure.
  2. Sensory nerves that play a role for transmitting sensations. For instance, this function is required to transmit sensations like touch and pain.
  3. Motor nerves. As the name suggests, their function is associated with controlling muscles, responsible to control of how your muscles move.

The damaged some nerves in the peripheral nervous system cause some consequences. The treatment is usually determined based on the underlying cause of the problem.

The symptoms that occur are dependent in which nerves affected, these may include:

  1. Sharp or burning pain in affected area.
  2. Increased (extreme) sensitivity to touch.
  3. Numbness and tingling, typically in hands and feet. But these may also spread upward such as in the arms and legs.
  4. If motor nerves are damaged, you can have muscle weakness such as in the feet.
  5. Lack or even loss of coordination (balance) that put you at greater chance of falling.

Problems in the bladder, bowel, and digestive system may occur if autonomic nerves of peripheral nervous system are affected. This may also cause dizziness, heat intolerance, or changes in blood pressure.

The good news, peripheral neuropathy is preventable and manageable condition. The answer is usually dependent on how well you control the underlying condition that put you at risk.

Is peripheral neuropathy reversible in diabetic?

The prognosis is closely associated with the cause of the nerve damage. If the underlying cause is treatable or even curable, the problem is likely to become reversible too.

For instances, if nerve damage is caused by particular vitamin deficiency, improved diet or vitamin therapy is usually enough to treat or even reverse the problem. Likewise, peripheral neuropathy caused by high alcohol consumption often improves with dietary approaches (limiting or avoiding alcohol). How about peripheral neuropathy in diabetics?