There are over one hundred different types of peripheral neuropathy that have been identified so far. However, diabetic neuropathy remains the most common type of neuropathy. Individuals suffering from diabetes deal with frequent fluctuations in their blood sugar levels and often suffer from nerve damage, requiring special care of their feet as any small cuts can lead to a larger complication. Many patients experience numbness and a tingling sensation in their extremities and a loss of sensation that may make it difficult for them to realize when they are hurt. Here are five ways you can take care of yourself and stay fit.
Controlling blood sugar
It’s important for patients suffering from diabetic neuropathy to keep their blood sugar levels within a healthy range. Regularly checking blood sugar level helps to ensure that excessive fluctuation and exceeding the suggested limit does not occur. If this does happen, it can lead to nerve damage, affecting various body functions. Check with your healthcare provider to ensure the correct steps are being taken and avoid testing immediately after exercising or when you are nervous as your reading may not be accurate.
To keep yourself within the target range for your blood sugar, make sure to spread out your meals. Eat a lot of healthy carbohydrates, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. Eat multiple smaller meals rather than two or three large meals throughout the day. Make sure to consult your physician and dietician before making any changes to your diet and food intake. Vitamins B and E are also recommended to help with the nerve damage and repair.
Reducing smoking and alcohol usage
Reduce tobacco and alcohol intake as it is highly recommended to ease neuropathy symptoms and pain. Smoking can lead to an increased chance of a heart attack and other health issues. Smoking can also restrict your blood flow by narrowing the blood vessels and cause tingling sensations in your body. Support groups and therapists can help you to stop smoking or drinking gradually.
Taking care of your feet
Keeping your feet covered at all times with shoes can prevent many unwanted falls and accidents. Patients with neuropathy can suffer from a loss of sensation to various stimuli. Hence smaller cuts can go unnoticed and later develop into a complexity. Try having a foot care routine and use mirrors to examine smaller cuts or bruises at the end of each day. Make sure your shoes are free of small sharp objects and also maintain a healthy toenail length. Your living space should be free of loose and scattered objects that can lead to possible falls.
Regular follow-ups with your physician is the most important step to take care of yourself. Make sure to go to all your appointments and your scheduled tests. Check in with your physician as soon as you see the slightest change in your symptoms.
Making lifestyle changes may also bring relief to your chronic pain and neuropathy symptoms. We understand that living with diabetic peripheral neuropathy can be painful and frustrating, but small steps can go a long way.
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- “Peripheral Neuropathy Fact Sheet”. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
- “Celebrate National Safety Month”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- “Diabetic Neuropathy: Care Instructions”. MyHealth.Alberta.ca
- “Best Peripheral Neuropathy Diet | Foods To Avoid”. The Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy