What Is Diabetic Neuropathy?

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By jolene
Reviewed
Reviewed: Dr. Gromatzky
Apr 23, 2020
Medical Expert Medical Expert

Diabetic neuropathy is a condition where the nerves are damaged due to diabetes mellitus. Neuropathy occurs when there is progressive loss of nerve fiber function. It occurs when there is presence of signs and/or symptoms of peripheral nerve dysfunction in diabetics when other causes are ruled out. Diabetic neuropathy is one of the commonest complications of diabetes and estimated to affect 50% of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus patients.

Diabetic neuropathy can severely decrease the quality of life in patients as it can cause secondary complications. Diabetic neuropathy occurs as a result of microvascular injury affecting the small blood vessels. Some conditions that may occur in association with diabetic neuropathy are autonomic neuropathy, third, fourth, or sixth cranial nerve palsy, and more.

1. Mechanism

The peripheral neurons can be broadly divided into motor, sensory, and autonomic neurons. When the blood sugar levels are not controlled, the smaller neuron fibers are affected. With continued high blood glucose, the larger fibers also become affected. While the exact factors that result in the development of diabetic neuropathy have yet to be fully understood, there are multiple hypotheses that have been proposed. Generally, it has been accepted to be due to a multifactorial process. The development of symptoms are thought to be dependent on factors such as high cholesterol levels, total hyperglycemic (high blood sugar) exposure, increased height, smoking, and genetics.

Diabetic Neuropathy

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