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Consequential disease: More than every third diabetic develops a neuropathy
Health experts say around 7.6 million diabetics live in Germany. The disease can lead to numerous secondary diseases. One of them is “diabetic neuropathy”. Almost one in three people with diabetes develop such a nerve disorder.
Illness can result in numerous complications
According to an analysis, around 7.6 million people in Germany are affected by diabetes. The disease can lead to numerous secondary diseases. Diabetes often causes diseases of the cardiovascular system, such as a heart attack or chronic heart failure, over time. The nervous system is also affected.
As the non-profit health organization diabetesDE - Deutsche Diabetes-Hilfe explains in a communication, "diabetic neuropathy" is, along with changes to the blood vessels, the retina of the eye and the kidneys, a common complication of type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
On average, more than one in three diabetics in Germany also develop a nervous disease. This can affect all organ systems of the body and cause various complaints.
These include pain, abnormal sensations such as "tingling" on the skin, calf cramps, muscle weakness or numbness in the feet.
In a video published by diabetesDE - German Diabetes Aid as part of the "Diabetes costs lifetime" series, a person affected reports about her life with the complications of polyneuropathy.
This so-called “peripheral neuropathy” mostly affects the nerves of the feet and legs, but sometimes also the nerves in the hands and arms.
Symptoms can include pain in the affected limbs such as toes, feet, or fingers. But sometimes the neuropathy is painless or even without any symptoms.
This can have serious consequences, especially on the feet: because weakened or absent sensitivity of the affected limbs causes pressure points, ulcers, severe cornea formation, injuries or burns.
Damage to the nervous system usually goes unnoticed for a long time
According to the announcement by diabetesDE - Deutsche Diabetes-Hilfe, around a third of all people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes develop damage to the voluntary or vegetative nervous system over the course of the illness.
They develop at an early stage of the disease and usually go unnoticed for a long time.
"The cause can be a poor metabolism with high blood sugar levels over the years", explained Professor Dr. med. Thomas Haak, board member of diabetesDE - German Diabetes Aid and chief physician at the Diabetes Center Mergentheim.
“However, the creation mechanisms are very individual and complex. No one affected is to blame for their diabetes itself or such a secondary disease, ”says the diabetologist.
Prevent diabetic neuropathy
In addition to the peripheral form, "autonomic neuropathy" also occurs. This can affect almost every organ system.
"Nerve changes in organs cause symptoms that can also occur in other diseases and that the doctor has to rule out," explained Professor Haak.
"If, for example, the esophagus and stomach are affected, swallowing disorders, nausea, vomiting, feeling of fullness and low blood sugar after meals are part of the symptoms."
Patients with diabetes can prevent diabetic neuropathy by paying attention to good blood sugar levels, reducing any excess weight, not smoking and having a check-up at least once a year. (ad)