Assess Your Symptoms

Type 2 diabetes is a slow-progressing disease, and symptoms aren’t always obvious. You may have had diabetes for years before you received a diagnosis or even noticed any symptoms, such as increased thirst or hunger, frequent urination, or recurring infections. When you have diabetes, you’re at higher risk for certain diseases, so it’s important to pay attention to symptoms of possible complications. Learn how to spot the symptoms of nerve, kidney, and heart damage, and mouth, skin, and hearing conditions before they progress. 

 
   

Break It Down: Diabetic Neuropathy (Video Transcript)

Patients with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes face a number of potentially serious medical complications.

One of the most common complications is diabetic neuropathy, which is a form of nerve damage that results from the effects of high blood sugar levels upon nerve fibers throughout the body.

The most common form is called peripheral neuropathy, which mainly affects the arms and legs, causing pain, numbness, tingling, and loss of motor function.

This loss of sensation can cause diabetics to be unaware of injuries and infections, especially in their feet, which in the worst case can lead to the need for an amputation.

Recognizing the Signs:

The symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, and in particular peripheral neuropathy, generally appear gradually. They begin in your feet and legs. Many diabetics describe this as a “pins and needles” type of sensation. 

Other common signs and symptoms of diabetic neuropathy include:

  • hypersensitivity to touch
  • loss of sense of touch
  • difficulty with coordination or walking
  • numbness or pain in the extremities
  • muscle weakness or wasting
  • dizziness upon standing
  • excessive sweating
  • foot ulcers
  • and skin infections

Diagnosing:

A number of physical examination methods and diagnostic testing allow doctors to make a diagnosis when a patient presents with symptoms of neuropathy.

The arms and legs can be checked to see how well their nerves and muscles conduct electricity. 

All diabetics should be instructed to check their feet for sores, ulcers, cuts, or signs of infection, so that treatment can be initiated as soon as possible and to prevent worsening of any bad condition.

Treatment:

There’s no cure for diabetic neuropathy, but there are treatments that can slow the progression and lessen the severity of symptoms.

First and foremost, diabetics need to keep their blood sugar within optimal levels. Proper foot care and hygiene are extremely important.

Several medications can help relieve the pain of diabetic neuropathy. These include certain anti-seizure drugs and antidepressants. Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors seem to be effective at relieving the pain of neuropathy while producing an acceptable number of side effects. 

But like so many conditions, what works for one person may not work for another, so doctors may prescribe a combination of medications until they find what works best for an individual patient.

 
 

Bodies in Motion: Type 2 Diabetes

This interactive tool featuring three dimensional anatomical models allows you to see and understand how type 2 diabetes can affect your body.

Avoiding Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

People with type 2 diabetes are at significantly higher risk to develop hypertension and suffer heart attacks.

Foot Complications

One of the most common types diabetes complications are foot problems. Learn why foot issues can be dangerous.

Diabetes and Vision Loss

Did you know unchecked blood sugar can lead to vision deterioration and even blindness?

Diabetes and Depression

Type 2 diabetes also affects a person's emotional well-being—those with diabetes are at higher risk for depression and other mental health issues.

Diabetes Symptoms

Learn about diabetes symptoms including blurred vision, frequent urination and pain.

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