If you have diabetes and have already experienced hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) you already know you can have a serious problem.
That problem is hypoglycemia.
Hypoglycemia can occur in anyone with diabetes, especially if they’re taking medication but especially injected insulin to lower their blood glucose. If you have type 1 diabetes and you’re insulin dependent, you stand a higher chance of developing hypoglycemia.
The symptoms might be mild and easy for you to recognize. However, the symptoms can be severe enough to cause you to lose consciousness…
If those prospects concern you, they should. The really frightening thing is this –
You Might Not Even Know You Have A Problem
Most people expect hypoglycemic episodes to come with classic symptoms:
∙ Heart palpitations
That doesn’t always happen. If you’ve had type 1 diabetes for a long period of time and try to keep your blood glucose levels close to normal, you may not even realize you have a problem.
If you have type 1 diabetes, when your blood glucose levels fall, your insulin levels don’t decrease and your glucagon levels don’t increase. They just reflect your body’s absorption of insulin. When that happens, your body loses its first two lines of defense against the imbalance in your system. Your body’s normal response is impaired.
What Causes the Impairment?
Several things –
∙ Your brain may have become used to hypoglycemia because it’s been dealing with it for awhile. If you’ve had frequent episodes, the system in your body that’s responsible for transporting adrenaline to where it’s needed no longer senses a great need. It just doesn’t respond.
∙ You may be using medications that mask your hypoglycemia symptoms and not even know it. You may not experience the tremors or heart palpitations that another person would during a hypoglycemic episode.
All of these are reasons (especially if you are insulin dependent) you should be checking and recording your blood sugars at least 4 times per day. It is so critical to use a good monitor and always have supplies on hand.
One last thing. Ask your doctor about having hypoglycemia recovery tools like glucose (sugar) tablets on hand for a low blood sugar emergency.
About Autonomic Neuropathy
Autonomic neuropathy in itself is not a disease. It’s a type of peripheral neuropathy that affects the nerves that control involuntary body functions like heart rate, blood pressure, digestion and perspiration. The nerves are damaged and don’t function properly leading to a breakdown of the signals between the brain and the parts of the body affected by the autonomic nervous system like the heart, blood vessels, digestive system and sweat glands.
The autonomic nervous system is the body’s back up plan for dealing with hypoglycemia. When it malfunctions, it can lead to a world of problems. Imagine your body being unable to regulate your heart rate or your blood pressure, an inability to properly digest your food, urinary problems, even being unable to sweat in order to cool your body down when you exercise. In your case as a patient with diabetic hypoglycemia, your autonomic neuropathy could be keeping your liver from producing insulin.
If you have diabetes, you need to take every precaution to maintain proper glucose levels. Make sure you report any change in your condition to your doctor immediately.
If you’ve developed autonomic neuropathy as a result of your hypoglycemia, prompt treatment is your best bet to avoid serious and possibly deadly complications. Early intervention with a NeuropathyDR® clinician is a good place to start. If you already have symptoms, start treatment immediately. If you take beta blockers or you’ve had frequent episodes of hypoglycemia in the past, see your doctor immediately and make sure you’re on a good preventative regimen.
For more information on coping with autonomic neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.com.
If you are living with diabetes, chances are you are no stranger to neuropathy. While some (even those who do have nerve damage) might experience no symptoms at all, about 60 to 70 percent of diabetics experience pain, soreness, loss of sensation, tingling in the extremities, and even digestive problems—or other conditions related to organ complications—all symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. Diabetes is, in turn, one of the most common causes of neuropathy overall.
Risk of developing diabetes-related neuropathy actually increases with age and extenuating health considerations (such as being overweight), partially because people who have problems with glucose control for extended periods of time—25 years or more—are more susceptible.
So what causes people who have diabetes to develop neuropathic symptoms? Research is occasionally unclear on the subject, but it is generally agreed that exposure to high blood glucose (high blood sugar) has a negative effect on nerve condition. Of course, this is in addition to other conditions or lifestyle factors commonly associated with causing or exacerbating neuropathy, such as injury, metabolic inconsistencies, inherited traits, or substance abuse.
Sometimes Called Pre-Diabetes Metabolic Syndrome is rampant in our society...
There are a few kinds of neuropathy associated with diabetes, the most common being peripheral neuropathy (this is the type usually referred to when people simply say “neuropathy;” but we’ll get to the other types in a moment). Peripheral neuropathy is characterized by pain, numbness, tingling, and loss of motor function, among other sensation-related symptoms. This type is written about extensively, and can greatly impact quality of life for its sufferers. The good news is, most treatment and therapy for neuropathy addresses this kind, and many are very effective!
Focal and proximal neuropathy result in muscle weakness and pain, and typically target a specific nerve grouping. These types of neuropathy are commonly characterized by weakness in the legs, causing difficulty standing and walking.
Autonomic neuropathy, as the name implies, causes changes in autonomic bodily functions. These include bowel and bladder functions, sexual responses, and digestion. Autonomic neuropathy can be life-threatening in extreme cases, as it also affects nerves that serve the heart, lungs, and eyes. Especially troubling to diabetics is the resulting condition of hypoglycemia unawareness, which can obliviate the symptoms most diabetics associate with low glucose.
A comprehensive foot exam is recommended at least once a year for diabetics, to check for peripheral neuropathy. Once diagnosed, the need for more frequent exams becomes important. Additional to diabetic amputation concerns, your doctor will want to test your protective sensation by pricking your foot with a pin, or running monofilament across your skin. If you have lost protective sensation, you could be at risk to develop sores that might not heal properly, leading to infection.
For other types of neuropathy, a NeuropathyDR® clinician will perform a check of heart rate variability to detect how your heart rate changes in response to changes in blood pressure and posture, or even an ultrasound, which can detect whether other internal organs such as the kidneys and bladder are functioning properly.
Tight blood sugar control and a healthy diet is the best way to control diabetic neuropathy, as well as other diabetic conditions. Even if you don’t have symptoms of neuropathy, checkups with a NeuropathyDR®-trained clinician can help spot warning signs of factors that could endanger your nerve function or even be life-threatening. In addition to dietary considerations, your clinician can also help any symptoms by prescribing appropriate medication for pain you might experience.
If you have diabetes, you are at risk! If you have symptoms, or think you might, don’t let it go unchecked. Remember, the sooner neuropathy is diagnosed, the easier it will be to treat and to slow the progression of this degenerative condition. Your NeuropathyDR® clinician is trained to identify the various types of neuropathy and recommend the treatments that will help you retain your quality of life. If you are not already in-touch with a NeuropathyDR® doctor, contact us to find one in your area!
The next time you have a headache…
Or even muscle cramps or twitching…
Go online and “Google” any of those terms and see what you come up with.
I’m willing to bet you’ll be terrified by the results.
For headache you’ll see anything from brain tumor to bleeding in the brain to meningitis and encephalitis.
Indigestion will lead you to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), peptic ulcer disease, cancer, or even abnormality of the pancreas or bile ducts.
And muscle cramps or twitching will run the gamut from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease to ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).
Your search will also give you the more common reasons for any of these symptoms. Many people latch on to the more dramatic reasons and begin living like every day is their last.
Others will downplay symptoms, assume that they have something simple to treat and go to the corner drug store and buy whatever over the counter remedy “seems” to treat their symptoms.
Either of these reactions could be courting disaster. Especially if you have a condition that can lead to peripheral neuropathy. Delaying treatment with your local NeuropathyDR® clinician can lead to severe lifelong nerve damage that will destroy your quality of life.
Expecting the Worst
If you fall into the “I know I’m dying” category, you will probably begin doctor shopping. Going from specialist to specialist looking for someone to confirm the worst. Even beyond the physical damage the stress of this process can do to your body, your emotional well-being is destroyed.
You live day to day expecting the worst with the specter of the Grim Reaper hanging over your shoulder. That is no way to live.
The first thing you need to do is make appointment with your primary care provider, preferably a NeuropathyDR® clinician. Tell them your symptoms and let them do some diagnostic testing. If the results warrant it, they will get you started on a treatment protocol to not only alleviate your symptoms but treat the root cause of your medical problem. The NeuropathyDR® treatment protocol includes nutrition counseling, diet planning, stress management techniques, and hands on adjustment to properly align your nervous system.
If you actually do have a serious condition, the earlier you start this process, the better off you’ll be. The earlier you receive treatment for any condition that can lead to peripheral neuropathy, the less your chances of permanent nerve damage.
Ignoring the Obvious
The other end of the spectrum is the patient who does their own research, opts for the condition easily treatable with over the counter meds, and puts off seeing a specialist until their symptoms are much worse.
Let’s take the muscle twitching or cramping symptom as an example. Yes, this could be caused by overworking the muscle or even a vitamin deficiency. Either of those are easy to fix.
But what if it’s something more serious?
If the condition lasts longer than a few days, you need to see your local NeuropathyDR® clinician. You could have a condition leading to peripheral neuropathy. Failing to treat the underlying cause quickly can lead to lasting nerve damage, muscle degeneration, and ultimately, even amputation of the affected limb.
Something as simple as seeing a specialist well versed in conditions affecting the bones, muscles and bones, like your local NeuropathyDR® clinician, can make the difference between life in a wheelchair and getting back to normal quickly.
Cyberchondria vs. Informed Caution
Before you think we’re advocating running to the doctor every time you have a hang nail, that is definitely not the case. We’re not advocating the spread of Cyberchondria (i.e., the rising epidemic of online diagnosis and treatment), just asking that you approach any medical condition with informed caution.
An informed and educated patient is a gift for any physician. Informed patients are much more likely to participate in their own care and keep their physician apprised of any changes in their condition. That’s a win for both sides.
Instead of using the internet as a tool to diagnose (or, in many cases, misdiagnose) your own conditions, choose to use it as a means of educating yourself enough to provide your health care provider with all the information he needs to accurately and quickly diagnose your illness.
You’ll be making your life, and your NeuropathyDR® clinician’s life, much easier.
For more information on coping with your peripheral neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.com.