How Diabetes affects your Nervous System

Diabetes is often considered as a disease where sugar level becomes irregular which disturbs the normal lifestyle of a person. Diabetes is known as a lifestyle disease which can be cured if you maintain a good lifestyle after you enter your 30's. What most of us don't know is that diabetes can affect you nervous system which is linked to several other diseases. Here we will explain how diabetes affect your nervous system and what steps you can take to save yourself from this health hazard.

Nervous System and Diabetes

There are two important parts of our nervous system. One is central nervous system which consists of brain and nerves in our spinal cord. Other part of nervous system is called peripheral nervous system, which consists of nerves that connect other parts of our body to the nerves in spinal cord. Our brain communicates to all organs, muscles and skin with the help of electrical impulses sent through these nerves. Diabetes affect the peripheral nervous system which affects the health of these nerves and thus communication between brain and other parts of body is disturbed. Important involuntary functions of our body like heart beat, digestion and vision are controlled by our brain through nerves. If anything goes wrong with nerves then any of these functions can easily get affected.

Neuropathy or Nerve Damage

Neuropathy or Nerve Damage caused due to diabetes can be categorized into three categories.
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy: Numbness in hand and feet, lack of sensation and trouble in moving fingers are symptoms of Diabetic peripheral neuropathy. It is caused due to damage of sensory nerves (which carry signals from body to brain) and motor nerves (which carry electrical impulses from brain to move muscles).
Diabetic autonomic neuropathy: There are some functions in our body that are controlled automatically by our brain through nervous system. We can't control those function at our will. Some of such functions are digestion, heart beat, blood pressure and sexual functions. If the nerves controlling such functions are damaged due to diabetes then it is called diabetic autonomic neuropathy. Here are a few examples of this type of neuropathy.

  • Irregular blood pressure or sudden drop in blood pressure can occur if the nerves controlling blood pressure are affected. Sudden fainting can also occur in such cases.
  • Food moves in our digestive tract by contraction and relaxing of muscles around digestive tract. Disturbance in digestion can occur if the nerves responsible for movement of food in the digestive tract are affected. In such a case you might feel indigestion, food stuck in the stomach or vomiting. Constipation and diarrhea can also occur due to abnormal functioning of the large intestine.
  • If urinary system is affected the you may find problems in emptying the bladder. It may be either delayed or incomplete. It can cause problems like Urinary Tract Infection. Urinary retention can also damage the kidneys.
  • If sexual functions are affect the men may get affected by erectile dysfunction and women may find vaginal dryness.

Diabetic focal neuropathy: This type of neuropathy occurs when nerves connecting an organ is damaged. It can cause weakness or paralysis of an organ like legs or arms. If the nerves controlling movement of muscles in eyes that are used to adjust focus are affected then vision is affected. If optic nerve is damaged then total vision loss can occur.

Is it possible to regenerate nerves damaged due to diabetes ?

Researchers are struggling to find if the diabetic neuropathy can be reversed. Regenerating the nerves damaged due to diabetes can help in treatment of millions of diabetic people around the globe. The truth is that naturally damaged nerves can't be repaired by our body itself. There are no medicines to regenerate the damaged nerves. What a person can do to save himself / herself from neuropathy is to keep blood sugar in control. Saving your feet and arms from an injury and regularly inspecting them for sensation loss is also necessary. Some symptoms of neuropathy can be controlled by medicines but nerve damage can't be reversed.

Keeping your blood sugar in control is very necessary for every diabetic person. Even a non diabetic person above the age of 35 should get his blood sugar regularly checked. Our nervous system is the key to a healthy life and if it is damaged then it becomes extremely challenging to live a normal life. Save yourself from diabetes by adapting a good lifestyle and encourage others to do so.

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