Diabetic Neuropathies: When should one seek medical advice?

By  , Expert Content
Dec 22, 2011

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Diabetes, over time, can damage nerves throughout your body. Symptoms depend on the nerves that are affected. As the nerve damage progresses slowly, most people develop symptoms gradually. Therefore, the problems may not become evident until considerable damage has occurred.

Consult your doctor if you have any/all of the following symptoms suggestive of some type of significant medical problem:

  • Numbness or reduced sensation of pain or changes in temperature in the feet or hands.
  • Tingling or burning sensation in the limbs.
  • Pain while walking or sharp pain, which worsens at night
  • Foot problems such as chronic ulcers, infections, deformities and bone and joint pain.
  • Lack of awareness of decrease in blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia unawareness).
  • Abdominal swelling, persistent or recurrent nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite.
  • Sexual problems in men such as erectile dysfunction (in men) or vaginal dryness (in women).
  • Feeling lightheaded or giddy when you rise from sitting or lying down.
  • Difficulty in seeing when it changes from light to dark.
  • Sudden, sharp and severe pain in the hip and thigh or buttock.
  • Weakening and atrophy of thigh muscles (as the disease progresses).
  • Unintended weight loss.

Symptoms that need urgent medical consultation or treatment

  • Pain on hand or carpal tunnel syndrome; this causes numbness or tingling in the fingers or hand, sense of weakness in hand, tendency to drop things etc)
  • Paralysis or weakness on one side of the face (Bell's palsy).
  • Rapid heart rate even at rest.
  • Loss of consciousness or fainting when you rise from sitting or lying down.

These are some symptoms that may be present in people with diabetic neuropathy, but it does not always indicate nerve damage. Similar symptoms may occur due to other problems that require medical care. Your doctor can diagnose the cause of your symptoms and treat them, thereby preventing severe problems.


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