In some cases, Diabetes can cause damage to the nerves that transport messages from the brain to the other parts of the body and vice versa. This is known as Diabetic neuropathy. Symptoms like loss of feeling (numbness) or painful tingling in certain areas of the body are common. The other harmful affects of Diabetic neuropathy are:
Loss of strength and reduced feeling
Damage to heart functions
Malfunctioning of the intestines
Although it is not very clear as to why diabetic neuropathy occurs, high blood sugar levels might be leading to a deficiency of oxygen and depleted blood supply to the nerves, especially in the extremities. This could be because of damaged blood vessels, which feed the nerves.
Various types of diabetic neuropathy
When the peripheral nervous system is damaged, the result can be loss of sense of pain, temperature, touch and vibration in some areas of the body. Movement and muscle strength might also be affected. This is known as Peripheral neuropathy.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
If a single nerve is affected, the condition is known as Focal neuropathy. It mostly affects the foot, wrist or thigh but other areas such as the nerves of the chest and back and the nerves controlling the eye muscles can also get affected. There is close association with Carpal tunnel syndrome when the nerves are compressed or pinched by its effects.
Autonomic neuropathy is the other type, which results from the problems of the automatic nervous system. The spontaneous functions of the body such as blood pressure, heartbeat, urination, sweating, digestion, and certain sexual functions are controlled by these nerves.
Diabetic neuropathy can be diagnosed basically from the symptoms, physical examination and medical history. To be sure of the diagnosis, electromyogram (EMG) and nerve conduction studies might be needed. To find out the type of neuropathy and to specify the area affected additional tests might be required.