Although different types of diabetic neuropathy can affect people who have diabetes, research suggests that up to one-half of people with diabetes have peripheral neuropathy.1 Neuropathies are a series of conditions that cause damage to the nervous system.
More than 30 percent of people with diabetes have autonomic neuropathy.2
Autonomic neuropathy affects involuntary functions of the nervous system such as bladder control and breathing. This disorder can cause major disruptions to daily living. A big telltale sign with this disorder is sudden drops in blood pressure leading to dizziness and fainting.
Small fiber neuropathy damages the nerves responsible for feeling and touch. It can also lead to complications with breathing and regulating the heartbeat. This disorder develops slowly with symptoms beginning in the hands and feet. Pain and burning in lower and upper extremities and loss of feelings in hands and feet are two major symptoms. Muscle cramps are also very common.
The biggest risk factor for developing neuropathies is poor blood sugar control. There are other risk factors like smoking and high cholesterol that increase the risk of diabetics developing neuropathies. There is no cure for neuropathies, so early detection and prevention are key. If you are diabetic and are experiencing some of the symptoms above, or others such as, difficulty digesting food and abnormal sweating, contact a medical professional immediately.
Medicare will pay 100% for several nurse visits at home to train a patient in management of blood sugar for homebound diabetics over the age of 65.