If you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, there is always a risk of nerve damage known as diabetic neuropathy. This condition is not developed overnight and is a result of long-term elevated sugar levels that have not been managed well. Quite often, the effects of this nerve damage appear in the legs and feet, but this is not always the case.
People who have diabetes should always check for the early indicators of diabetes neuropathy that include tingling, pain, numbness, or weakness in the hands and feet. These signs might be accompanied by problems of the digestive system, urinary tract, blood vessels, and heart.
Prescription medicines can help, but research has proved that they only ease the pain by 30 to 50 percent. By following these self-care tips, you can prevent your diabetic neuropathy, or diabetes in general, from reaching a chronic stage:
Keep Blood Sugar Under Control
To prevent or limit nerve damage, the foremost step that needs to be taken is managing blood sugar levels. Eat a nutritious diet and exercise regularly to maintain healthy body weight. Follow a schedule of testing your blood sugar, never miss any medication, and avoid stressful situations as much as you can.
If your blood sugar level keeps fluctuating, work with a diabetes care team to understand the steps that need to be followed to control such a situation. Your doctor will suggest changes that gently bring the sugar levels to the normal range. By maintaining a healthy blood sugar level, you’ll reduce the risk of nerve damage by 60%.
Get Enough Vitamin D
When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it produces this nutrient in response. It has a strong role in protecting against nerve pain. After a study was carried out on people with diabetic neuropathy, it was found that those with lower vitamin D levels experienced more pain.
It is hard to get the recommended amount of vitamin D from food alone. Therefore, medical practitioners recommend supplements that can fulfill the requirement of 600 to 800 IU of vitamin D. Even one supplement in a week can result in fewer symptoms of diabetic neuropathy within two months.
Be Aware of the Symptoms
You should know the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy so that you can contact your doctor as soon as you experience early signs. You will experience a range of changes in your body, but the most common indicators are pain, numbness, or tingling in the feet. You will feel like collapsing due to weakness when you try to stand up.
Other than these symptoms, neuropathy can also affect any system in your body. If you are experiencing changes in digestion, urination, or bowel movements, aggravated diabetic neuropathy might be the cause. People may also experience sexual dysfunction or sudden nerve pain in a particular area of the body.
Do Daily Foot Checks
The biggest problem with diabetic neuropathy is the feeling of numbness that may leave any cut or blister undetected. When ignored for prolonged time periods, they can lead to an infection. Healing is already slow and compromised in diabetes, so it won’t be an easy task to treat an infection, especially if your blood sugar levels aren’t under control.
Fix any time in the day where you carry out a complete foot check. The top, soles, and the area between each toe should be thoroughly checked. If you cannot see the bottom of your foot, use a mirror or ask someone else for help. Never ignore any problem and report it to the doctor as soon as you see it.
Be Proactive with Foot Care
If you have diabetes, you can never ignore your foot care. Wash your feet at least once a day with lukewarm water. Dry thoroughly, especially between the toes, where moisture can get caught. Moisturize your feet regularly to avoid dry patches but avoid the area between the toes.
Cut your toenails carefully and use a straight edge to prevent ingrowth. Use a nail file to smooth any of the rough edges. Always wear comfortable shoes that won’t rub against the skin and cause blisters. Try to wear socks so that a protective barrier is created between your feet and the shoes.
Use a Capsaicin Cream
While hot peppers leave your mouth on fire, their active ingredient, capsaicin, relieves the burning and pain caused by nerve damage. A study published in the journal ‘Pain’ revealed that wearing an 8% capsaicin patch reduced the pain levels by 30% in 2 weeks.
It is only through a doctor’s recommendation that you can get a higher-dose patch. However, studies have proved that even lower-dose creams can reduce the pain 11% more than a placebo cream.
Giving up smoking is the best advice for plenty of health problems, and diabetes is one of them. Smoking increases the risk factor for diabetic neuropathy and can be the reason for dangerous health issues. The harmful effects of smoking on circulation cause foot problems that may lead to foot mutation in extreme circumstances.
If you have trouble quitting on your own, you can get professional help. Your diabetes care provider might be able to prescribe medication that can help in quitting, or you can join a support group where your motivation will be boosted.
Before you seek diabetic neuropathy treatment, it is better to take preventive measures that may save you from dire consequences. Diabetes and neuropathy should be taken seriously as they can lead to grave circumstances if ignored for a long time. Car accident clinics also recommend keeping control over your diabetes as it becomes difficult for them to treat such patients who have been injured in a car crash.
According to the American Diabetes Association, one should get their A1C levels checked twice a year.
There is no known cure for the problem, but self-care can slow the progression of the illness or even reverse it. Quite often, it becomes impossible to restore the function that is lost by nerve damage. But if the right care is given under the guidance of a diabetic care team, serious measures like surgery or amputation can be avoided.