For anyone newly diagnosed with diabetes, learning about all possible complications can be a stressful experience. Depending on your access to treatment and current lifestyle habits, it can often feel like you are just counting down the days until you develop symptoms — causing many people to feel like they don't have control over their health.
What is Diabetic Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy, while common, remains one of the lesser-known complications of diabetes. At its core, it pertains to the nerve damage resulting from consistently high blood sugar. These elevated levels can damage the nerve fibers, particularly those in the legs and feet, leading to many symptoms and complications.
To support those in this situation, we have created this brief guide to exploring the timeline of developing diabetic neuropathy.
The Underlying Causes
The intricate relationship between diabetes and peripheral neuropathy is predominantly anchored in persistently elevated blood glucose levels. When blood sugar remains high over extended periods, it can damage the small blood vessels that supply the body's nerves, particularly those in the extremities, like the feet. This damage can disrupt the nerves' function, leading to neuropathy symptoms.
However, it's crucial to recognize that other contributory factors can escalate the situation:
- Vascular Disorders: These disorders pertain to abnormalities in the blood vessels. Conditions such as atherosclerosis, where arteries become narrowed and hardened due to fat deposition, can significantly reduce blood flow to the peripheral nerves. Restricted blood flow means that nerve tissues do not receive the necessary nutrients and oxygen they need, accelerating nerve damage and aggravating the symptoms of neuropathy.
- High Blood Pressure: Chronically elevated blood pressure can cause damage to the blood vessels and decrease the amount of blood flowing to the nerves. This can amplify the effects of high blood sugar on nerve damage. Therefore, regular monitoring and management of blood pressure are pivotal for individuals with diabetes.
- Elevated Cholesterol Levels: High cholesterol, particularly LDL ('bad' cholesterol), can lead to the buildup of plaques in the arteries, further narrowing them and limiting blood flow. The relationship between cholesterol and blood sugar regulation is complex; however, those with diabetes often have elevated cholesterol levels. Managing cholesterol, often through dietary adjustments and medications, can prevent or delay the onset of neuropathic symptoms.
Furthermore, lifestyle choices such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can impede blood flow and worsen nerve damage. Recognizing and addressing these risk factors early on, in conjunction with maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, can significantly reduce the risk of developing peripheral neuropathy or at least delay its progression.
When does peripheral neuropathy start with diabetes?
As one of the more common secondary health conditions to emerge from uncontrolled diabetes, peripheral neuropathy starts to develop sooner than many people realize.
Believed to be caused by chronic exposure to elevated blood glucose levels, symptoms of diabetic neuropathy emerge as damage interferes with the transmission of impulses from the peripheral nerves to the spinal cord and brain. While many people think that the disease begins when they first notice changes in the sensation of their feet and toes, the true onset of peripheral neuropathy occurs long before any symptoms can be noticed.
Identifying the Symptoms Early On
Because of this, pinpointing the specific time when the disease starts can be challenging, as most patients do not seek medical attention for their neuropathy until they begin to experience symptoms.
During the early stages of being diagnosed with type II diabetes, many patients struggle to make the lifestyle adjustments needed to control their blood glucose levels better. The longer a person's body is exposed to elevated blood sugar levels, the higher the risk of developing some nerve damage.
Common early signs of diabetic neuropathy include:
- Minor numbness or tingling to the toes or feet that comes and goes
- Sharp pain or cramps
- Hypersensitivity to light touch (e.g., the bedsheet, socks, shoes, etc.)
- A burning sensation in the feet and lower extremities
- Increased difficulty moving around and poorer balance due to numbness
Proactive Measures and Treatment
If you have experienced any of these symptoms, we highly recommend that you speak with your medical provider to discuss possible treatment options. Beyond conventional treatments, incorporating lifestyle changes such as regular foot checks, adopting a balanced diet, and engaging in physical therapy can aid in managing the condition. Early detection of diabetic neuropathy is the best way to reduce the risk of aggressive disease progression.
Viasox: Enhancing Quality of Life for Neuropathy Patients
Living with peripheral neuropathy — how Viasox can help
At Viasox, we understand that living with peripheral neuropathy can be incredibly challenging. With this in mind, we strive to create high-quality non-binding diabetic socks designed to offer improved comfort, extra support, padding, and antimicrobial benefits to make taking care of your feet easier than ever before.
Pairing Viasox diabetic socks with other holistic treatments, like daily exercise and a balanced diet, can play a pivotal role in slowing down the progression of diabetic neuropathy. Available for single or bulk purchases from our online store, explore our entire collection of classic and bold patterned diabetic socks from the comfort of your home.
For more information about our products or to receive additional support with your online order, please feel free to contact our team. We will get back to you as soon as we can!