Neuropathies are a family of nerve disorders caused by diabetes. People with diabetes can, over time, develop nerve damage throughout the body. Some people with nerve damage have no symptoms. Others may have symptoms such as pain, tingling, or numbnessloss of feeling in the hands, arms, feet, and legs. Nerve problems can occur in every organ system, including the digestive tract, heart, and sex organs.
About 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes have some form of neuropathy. People with diabetes can develop nerve problems at any time, but risk rises with age and longer duration of diabetes. The highest rates of neuropathy are among people who have had diabetes for at least 25 years. Diabetic neuropathies also appear to be more common in people who have problems controlling their blood glucose, also called blood sugar, as well as those with high levels of blood fat and blood pressure and those who are overweight.
The causes are probably different for different types of diabetic neuropathy. Metabolic factors, such as high blood glucose, long duration of diabetes, abnormal blood fat levels, and possibly low levels of IDDM. Neurovascular factors, leading to damage to the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to nerves. Autoimmune factors that cause inflammation in nerves. Inherited traits that increase susceptibility to nerve disease.
Symptoms depend on the type of neuropathy and which nerves are affected. Numbness, Tingling, or pain in the toes, feet, legs, hands, arms, and fingers Wasting of the muscles of the feet or hands. Dizziness or faintness due to a drop in blood pressure after standing or sitting up. Erectile dysfunction in men or vaginal dryness in women.