Neuropathy is caused by damage or degeneration of the peripheral nerves located in the outer part of the brain and spinal cord. Similar to an electrical wire covered with insulation, the insulation is beginning to crumble. Without insulation, the unprotected wire will start to short-circuit.
When the sheathing of nerve cells degenerates, the transmitted signals are scrambled, resulting in your body receiving signals interpreted as numbness, heat, cold, tingling, and pain in the toes, feet, legs, fingers, hands, and arms.
It can also affect digestion, urination, and circulation.
Some risk factors associated with neuropathy are diabetes, poor blood glucose control, increasing age, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, and alcohol consumption.
Research has estimated that as many as 47% of people with diabetes suffer from neuropathy in the U.S.A. Autonomic neuropathies affect the autonomic neurons, both sympathetic and parasympathetic. It can either be hereditary or acquired. It can be seen in individuals of all races or ages but happens predominantly in males.
Some cases do not seem to have a cause. However, it has been observed that, besides diabetes, some of the following issues could trigger neuropathy.
Vitamin B 12 deficiency
Chemotherapy or HIV treatment can damage peripheral nerves
Chronic kidney disease
Severe injuries like breaking a bone can disrupt the nerves
Hereditary diseases such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth syndrome and Friedreich’s ataxia
As mentioned before, neuropathy is caused by nerves that get damaged. Also, we talked about the types of nerves. We must now consider the symptoms to determine what nerve system is damaged.
The sensory system neuropathy includes tingling and numbness in the hands and feet, also known as diabetic neuropathy.
Increased levels of pain or not feeling pain at all are symptoms of this sensory system.
The loss of coordination, loss of ability to detect heat and cold, and intense burning pain at night are signs of sensory system neuropathy.
Motor system neuropathy, on the other hand, includes general muscle weakness, causing difficulty in making small movements like buttoning a shirt. Cramps and muscle paralysis come along with motor neuropathy.
Finally, autonomic neuropathy affects the nerves that control body organs such as the bowel and bladder. It changes the heart rate and blood pressure. Dizziness and fainting are very common because of the blood pressure changes.
There is a good chance that neuropathy can be treated and, in some cases, cured. Unfortunately, not all neuropathy cases can be treated. The treatment focused on managing symptoms and avoiding further nerve damage.
Treatments go from medicines (topic and oral) to even surgery, depending on the type and severity of the neuropathy.
There are ways to prevent this illness. A balanced diet and watching sugar consumption (especially if you have diabetes or your family has it) will help avoid the condition.