What Happens To Untreated Diabetic Neuropathy & When To Go To The Doctor For It?

Diabetic neuropathy is a nerve disorder characterized by nerve damage due to diabetes. It affects the flow of impulses between the brain and the nerves of the affected areas. It develops in the old people who chronically suffer from high levels of blood glucose levels. It is a common complication of diabetes. It commonly affects legs and foot causing symptoms like tingling, numbness, weakness, and pain in them. It cannot be cured completely. If diabetes is managed and blood sugar levels are kept to normal levels, then it can be controlled.

What Happens To Untreated Diabetic Neuropathy?

When diabetic neuropathy is left untreated, it causes progressive damage to the nerves and disturbs various functions of the body. Untreated diabetic neuropathy leads to following complications-

Infections In The Legs And Feet- diabetic neuropathy most commonly affects nerves in the feet, legs, and torso. It may lead to the loss of sensation in these areas. Any sore or cuts in these areas can go unnoticed leading to infections. If blood glucose levels are continued to be high, these infections can get severe and go deep in the soft tissues. It may lead to ulcers. In certain cases, such infections may induce irreversible changes in the soft tissue. It may imply the surgeon to remove the damaged toes or even foot. In some cases, damage to the nerves in the legs affects the joints leading to a condition termed Charcot’s joint. Its symptoms include swelling, numb feeling and reduced stability of the joint. (1)

Impaired Sweating- damaged nerves may affect the function of the sweat glands. This condition is known as anhydrosis if you have less sweating. It is known as hyperhidrosis, you sweat excessively. Nerve damage cause difficulties in the regulation of body temperature. (1)

Digestive Problems- nerve damage caused by diabetes may adversely affect digestion. It causes symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, impaired hunger, constipation, and diarrhea. This affects the flow of food in the stomach and intestines leading to poor nutrition and impaired blood sugar levels. (1)

Urinary Issues- nerves present in the urinary system control the functions of the bladder and other organs present in this system. Diabetic neuropathy may damage these nerves resulting in decreased control of urination. (1)

Sexual Dysfunction- disrupted the flow of signals to sexual organs due to damaged nerves by diabetic neuropathy can result in an impact on the sexual function. It leads to erectile dysfunction in males often accompanied by impaired stimulation. Females too face issues related to stimulation, sexual arousal, and vaginal lubrication. (1)

Poor Coordination- in some cases, nerve damage can result in poor balance and coordination while movement, leading to frequent falls, injuries, and fractures. (3)

Mental Health Symptoms- in some diabetic patients, nerve damage leads to chronic pain in the affected areas resulting in anxiety and depression. (3)

When To Go To The Doctor For Diabetic Neuropathy?

If you observe the following symptoms, you should consult your doctor-

  • A cut or sore seen on the foot that is not healing
  • Burning, tingling, weakness or pain in the hands or feet that disturb your sleep or daily routine
  • Alteration in the functions of the body such as urination, digestion or sexual function
  • Dizziness (2)

If these symptoms are present, it does not mean that you have nerve damage. It can be an indication of other health problems also. It may require medical attention for the prevention of future problems. (2)

Conclusion

Untreated diabetic neuropathy can cause complications related to the urinary system, foot, digestive system, and others discussed above. If you have un-healing cut or sore in the foot, disturbed urination, digestion or sexual function, dizziness and pain in the hands or feet, then you should meet your doctor.

References

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/can-diabetic-neuropathy-be-reversed#complications
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetic-neuropathy/symptoms-causes/syc-20371580
  3. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/nerve-damage-diabetic-neuropathies/what-is-diabetic-neuropathy

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