What is the Connection Between Diabetes and Nerve Damage?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 01 November 2018
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Diabetes is one of the chronic conditions that may cause nerve damage. The main connection between diabetes and nerve damage arises when a patient’s bloodstream contains too-high levels of glucose, which is also called blood sugar, over a long-term period. The result, in such a case, is often damage to the patient’s nerve coatings. Some people with diabetes may not realize they have nerve damage, as it can appear without any symptoms, while others develop such symptoms as tingling and numbness. Some patients also experience pain, gastrointestinal symptoms, and even dizziness as a result of the connection between diabetes and nerve damage.

The connection between diabetes and nerve damage may be expressed when nerves are damaged in a range of body parts. For example, a person with diabetes may develop nerve damage that affects his eyes and extremities. A person with this condition may even develop damage to the nerves of the bowel and the digestive system. In some cases, a person’s sexual organs are affected as well. For example, some people who suffer from nerve damage to the sexual organs may develop impotence that is related to diabetes.


It is possible for a person to develop nerve damage that is related to diabetes without realizing the damage is occurring. This is because there are some cases in which a person doesn't develop obvious symptoms. When symptoms do develop, however, they can include pain in the area affected by the nerves as well as such symptoms as tingling and numbness. In addition to numbness and tingling, some people also develop symptoms of gastrointestinal upset, such as nausea and loose, frequent bowel movements. Some people may also develop visual problems and dizziness, especially upon standing up.

It may seem logical that pain would be severe when a person is suffering from nerve damage. In many cases, however, the pain is only minor, which may lead patients to think it is caused by something other than nerve damage. In many cases, patients do not consider that their pain may be caused by nerve damage until their doctors run tests and examine them.

Though there is a connection between diabetes and nerve damage, it can be prevented. A person who has diabetes can prevent and minimize damage by keeping his blood sugar levels controlled and low. In many cases, this can be accomplished via changes in diet, and exercise may help as well. Some diabetics, however, may need the consistent use of medications to keep their blood sugar levels low.



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