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Peripheral neuropathy
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Peripheral neuropathy

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DIABETES AND ENDOCRINE SYSTEM

Diabetes Complications

From MayoClinic.com

When to seek medical advice

See your doctor regularly if you have diabetes, a compromised immune system or any other chronic medical condition.

If you have a cut or sore on your foot that doesn't seem to be healing, is infected or is getting worse, see your doctor promptly, especially if you have diabetes. Even minor sores that don't heal can turn into ulcers. In the most severe cases, untreated foot ulcers may become gangrenous — a condition in which the tissue dies — and require surgery or even amputation of your foot.

Seek medical care right away if you notice any unusual tingling, weakness or pain in your hands or feet. Early diagnosis and treatment offer the best chance for controlling your symptoms and preventing further damage to your peripheral nerves. If your symptoms are interfering with your sleep or you feel depressed, your doctor may be able to suggest treatments that can help.

Screening and diagnosis

Peripheral neuropathy isn't a single disease, but rather a syndrome with many causes. For that reason it can be difficult to diagnose. To help in the diagnosis, your doctor will likely take a full medical history and perform a physical and neurologic exam that may include checking your tendon reflexes, your muscle strength and tone, your ability to feel certain sensations, and your posture and coordination.

Your doctor also may request blood tests to check your level of vitamin B-12, a urinalysis, thyroid function tests and, often, electromyography (EMG) — a test that measures the electrical discharges produced in your muscles. As a part of this, test you'll be asked to have a nerve conduction study, which measures how quickly your nerves carry electrical signals. A nerve conduction study is often used to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome and other peripheral nerve disorders.

Your doctor may recommend a nerve biopsy, a procedure in which a small portion of a nerve is removed and examined for abnormalities. But even a nerve biopsy may not always reveal what's damaging your nerves.

Complications

Diabetic neuropathy may cause a number of complications. Damage to the nerves in your feet, along with poor circulation, can lead to ulcers and even gangrene. But it's not only your feet that are vulnerable — diabetes-related neuropathy can affect any organ in your body.

If nerves related to digestion are damaged, for instance, your stomach may empty too slowly, which may cause constant nausea, vomiting and bloating. Or you may have frequent constipation or diarrhea. In some cases you may have problems with bladder control or impotence.

Other complications include:

  • Partial or complete loss of movement or sensation

  • Ulcers

  • Relationship problems due to impotence

  • Depression

  • Weight loss

  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing

 

Peripheral neuropathy > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
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Last Modified : 03/15/08 01:46 AM