Why High Blood Sugar Is Toxic to Your Nerves
Too much of a good thing often turns out to be bad for you. Someone with diabetes might be able to tell you firsthand how high blood sugar can produce unpleasant sensations like tingling and numbness. These symptoms are a result of nerve damage resulting from too much sugar in your bloodstream.
While not every diabetes patient may experience nerve damage, diabetic neuropathy is a common problem for people with high blood sugar. The symptoms can range from mild to serious. In most cases, nerve damage resulting from high blood sugar levels requires ongoing treatment and continual monitoring.
Types of neuropathy
High sugar or glucose buildup in your blood can damage your nerves. Depending on where this occurs, there are different types of neuropathy that can present a variety of symptoms.
About 50% of diabetes patients experience peripheral neuropathy. The symptoms usually start in your feet or hands and can spread out over time to your legs or arms. Symptoms include:
- Stabbing pain in your hands and feet
- Numbness or tingling
- Burning pain
Autonomic neuropathy refers to nerve damage in any area of your autonomic nervous system, which includes your heart, stomach, and intestines. Nerve damage in these parts can cause symptoms including:
- Bladder problems like urinary tract infection (UTI)
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Irregular body temperatures
- Abrupt changes in blood pressure after sitting or standing
- Decreased sexual appetite
Diabetic amyotrophy is a condition that’s more prevalent among those who have Type 2 diabetes. Nerve damage affects the legs, hips, and buttocks, usually affecting one side of your body. You may experience symptoms like:
- Weight loss
- Severe pain in the affected areas
- Weakening of the thigh muscle
- Abdominal swelling
Treatments for diabetic neuropathy
Once nerve damage occurs, it’s hard to reverse its effects. However, there are ways to keep the symptoms in check. The American Diabetes Association® (ADA) recommends tracking your blood glucose levels with a meter as well as getting an A1C test at least twice a year.
Staying away from high-fat diets and processed foods can reduce your symptoms or help avoid the onset of neuropathy if you haven’t been diagnosed. Regular exercises should also be part of your routine, as a sedentary lifestyle can also contribute to worsening symptoms.
Other ongoing treatments can include medication for pain and nerve regeneration therapy. If you’re experiencing nerve damage symptoms, call or click to reach the specialists at St. Rose Integrative Medical Center.