01/7Symptoms of diabetes
Diabetes occurs when the blood glucose levels, also called blood sugar, is too high. This can lead to several health problems such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, eye problems, dental disease, foot problems and nerve damage. Symptoms of diabetes are not very obvious, so it's important to keep an eye on them and get yourself checked if you experience any symptom associated with the disease. One of the common warning signs usually strikes at night, and could be a sign that high blood sugar has damaged the nerves.
02/7Excessive sweating due to nerve damage
Excessive sweating could be due to low blood sugar levels and blood sugar damage to nerves. If you have diabetes, then unusual sweating could be a sign of diabetes-related nervous system damage. High blood sugar and high levels of fat can damage the nerves or the blood vessels that nourish the nerves.
The American Diabetes Association says that approximately half of people with diabetes experience some level of nerve damage. When nerve damage occurs, it can affect your sweat glands and can also impact other body functions.
03/7Impact on sweat glands
Damage to the nerves that control your sweat glands can cause you to sweat a lot at night, or even excessively sweat while eating. Your sweat glands may not work entirely, or certain parts of your body may sweat while other parts may remain dry. Failure of sweat glands to function properly can make it difficult for your body to maintain its temperature. Apart from sweating, nerve damage can produce several different symptoms depending on the body functions affected.
Sweating is controlled by the autonomic nervous system. It also controls other functions such as blood pressure, heart rate, eyes, bladder, digestive system and sex organs. Diabetes can affect nerves in any of these body parts and their functions.
There could be a drop in your blood pressure when rising from sitting or lying down. This may cause dizziness or fainting. Bladder or bowel problems and slow stomach emptying leading to nausea, vomiting, sensation of fullness and loss of appetite, can also be signs of nerve damage due to diabetes. You may also experience sexual response problems, such as vaginal dryness for women and erectile dysfunction for men.
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05/7Risk factors that may cause nerve damage
There are also other health and lifestyle factors which can lead to nerve damage. For example, diabetes can damage the kidneys which can lead to toxins in your blood. This can cause nerve damage. If you are overweight, which means you have a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or more, then you are at a higher risk of diabetic neuropathy. Smoking can also damage your nerves by narrowing and hardening the arteries, which reduces blood supply and makes it difficult for wounds to heal.
06/7When to see a doctor
It is important to see your doctor if you experience any severe symptoms such as a cut on your foot that won’t heal or dizziness or fainting. Consult your doctor if there is a burning or tingling sensation, or weakness or pain in your hands or feet that interferes with your daily activities or sleep. Changes in digestion, urination, or sexual function should not be ignored and it’s best to get a medical professional’s opinion if you are experiencing any such symptoms.
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07/7How to prevent diabetes and nerve damage
While nerve damage is a serious health issue, most people with diabetes can prevent nerve damage complications. If you have diabetes, it is important to stay on schedule with all of your self-checks, medical exams, and doctor’s appointments.
For controlling diabetes, your diet plays a very important role. Avoid highly processed carbs and refined grains which can increase your blood sugar. Instead, eat natural, plants-based items such as foods made from whole grains. Fibre also slows the absorption of sugars and interferes with the absorption of cholesterol. Regular physical activity is also important to regulate blood sugar levels. Also ensure regular foot care at home and getting your feet checked at doctor’s appointments.