The human nervous system consists of vast network of specialized tissue including the brain, spinal cord, and nerves which connect and control all the organs in the body. The nervous system manages all of the body’s actions and reactions in an environment. This is done through a series of electrical impulses that pass between neurons, or nerve cells, going to and from the brain.
These nerves can be either autonomic, sensory, or motor. Autonomic nerves control involuntary activities such as heart beat and digestion. Sensory nerves relay to the brain sensations of touch, temperature, and pain. Motor nerves carry messages from the brain to contract different muscles used in movement.
Diabetes is a disorder caused by an excessive amount of glucose, or blood sugar, in the bloodstream. Diabetic neuropathy is a condition that develops when there is impairment or physical damage to the nervous system due to this increase in blood glucose.
Increased blood glucose may cause a narrowing of the blood vessels supplying nerves. These damaged blood vessels might leak compounds into the nerves that damage them or fail to provide the nerve with enough oxygen. The extra glucose may stimulate an immune attack on the coating that surrounds the nerve axons, therefore decreasing or damaging the impulses those nerves carry.
The symptoms of diabetic neuropathy will vary depending on which nerves have sustained damage. Some symptoms include low blood pressure, constipation, pain, numbness, loss of sensation, and uncontrolled movements. The best prevention or treatment for this condition is through a healthy lifestyle and careful monitoring of glucose levels.
By controlling weight, being active, quitting smoking, and most importantly maintaining normal blood sugar levels, a diabetic can lower the chances for developing neuropathy.