Diabetic neuropathy is a condition characterized by nerve damage that can occur if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Diabetic neuropathy mostly causes damage to the nerves in the legs and feet, however, it can cause problems with the sensory, autonomic, and motor nerves as well. Other than diabetes, there are other contributing factors which can cause the development of diabetic neuropathy including age and duration of living with diabetes. As a matter of fact, more than half of people with type 2 diabetes and are older than 60 years have peripheral neuropathy. the basic diagnosis protocol for diabetic neuropathy involves a physical examination and review of symptoms as well as checking one’s medical history.[1] [2]

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Who Is At Risk For Diabetic Neuropathy?

The greatest risk factor for diabetic neuropathy is diabetes, which involves elevated levels of blood sugar in the body. The high blood sugar level causes damage to nerves throughout the body, and also decreases the amount of oxygen that is supplied to the nerves, hence interfering with their functionality. Being unable to control one’s blood glucose levels increases the risk of the condition. Individuals who smoke and have a high alcohol intake are also at risk of developing diabetic neuropathy. This is because these factors tend to decrease the amount of oxygen that goes to nerves throughout the body, and result in a weakened immune system, thus rendering such individuals susceptible to diabetic neuropathy and other illnesses.

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Age also plays a role in the development of diabetic neuropathy, and the older one gets, the more likely it is that diabetic-related neuropathy can occur. Adding to that, people who have had diabetes for a long time are also a risk, since there is a correlation between neuropathy and the duration of the condition. Individuals with damaged kidneys are also at risk as they are likely to experience limited proper excretion of certain toxins which can lead to nerve damage. Being overweight, having high blood pressure, eye diseases as well as coronary heart disease also increases the risk of developing diabetic neuropathy.[3] [1]

Is There A Blood Test For Diabetic Neuropathy

Other than a physical examination, symptoms review and evaluation of one’s medical history, your doctor may do other tests to help with deciding on a way forward. Needless say, neuropathy can be caused by a variety of factors, and more tests help find out what may be the underlying cause. The doctor may concentrate on tests that may involve checking on your overall muscle strength and tone, sensitivity to touch and vibration, as well as tendon reflexes. Additional tests may include; a filament test, electromyography, nerve conduction studies, quantitative sensory testing, and autonomic testing. The filament test is for sensitivity, electromyograph helps measure the electrical discharges produced by your muscles, whereas nerve conduction studies measures how fast your nerves conduct electrical discharges produced by the muscles.

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On the other hand, quantitative sensory testing is aimed at measuring how your nerves respond to vibration and changes in temperature, and autonomic testing a for any autonomic symptoms you may be having including sweating symptoms and how your blood pressure changes while changing positions, say from sitting to waking up.[2]

In cases of peripheral neuropathy, your doctor may want to run a blood test for various reasons. The blood tests will help determine whether you have any vitamin deficiencies, diabetes – i.e.diabetes-related if you hadn’t been diagnosed with the condition yet – and abnormal immune functions. Also, a blood test will be useful in ruling out other conditions that may cause neuropathy. Additionally, the doctor may perform a nerve biopsy to determine affected nerves and look for any abnormalities. A skin biopsy may also be done to look for a reduction in nerve endings.[4]

Conclusion

Individuals who are prediabetic or have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes are susceptible to diabetic neuropathy. Some factors, including smoking, age, alcohol consumption, diabetes-related hepatic diseases, and other conditions may increase one’s likelihood of developing the condition. Generally speaking, diabetic neuropathy has no blood testing in its basic protocol, but in cases of peripheral neuropathy presentation, it may be necessary. It helps in not only determining other underlying factors attributing to the condition, but also helps identify abnormal immune functions and vitamin deficiencies.

References:  

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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: August 7, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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