Neuropathy involves damage to the nerve cells which are responsible for touch, sensation and movement. Diabetic neuropathy is the nerve damage caused by diabetes. In most cases, the high blood sugar content of people living with diabetes damages the nerves with time. Neuropathy is a common effect of diabetes, and it is estimated that 60 to 70% of people living with diabetes develop some neuropathy at some point in their life.
Unfortunately, nerve damage from diabetes can’t be reversed since the body cannot repair damaged nerve tissues. However, some methods can be used to treat nerve damage caused by diabetes.
Treatments for Diabetic Neuropathy
Diabetic neuropathy is often associated with a lot of pain, and pain-relieving medications can be an excellent way to deal with the condition. Thankfully, anti-seizure drugs used to treat seizure disorders such as epilepsy can also be used to ease nerve pain. According to the American Diabetes Association, you can start with pregabalin (Lyrica), although Gabapentin (Gralise, Neurontin) is also an option. If you take these drugs, expect some side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness and even swelling.
While you might not be depressed, if you have diabetic neuropathy, you could ease your pain using specific antidepressants. For instance, Tricyclic antidepressants could help manage mild to moderate nerve pain. Some of the drugs in this category include amitriptyline, desipramine (Norpramin) and imipramine (Tofranil). Unfortunately, taking these drugs often comes with unwanted side effects, such as dry mouth and drowsiness.
However, other antidepressants could reduce nerve pain, such as Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), which have fewer side effects. According to the American Diabetes Association, patients should consider duloxetine (Cymbalta) as the first treatment. You can also rely on venlafaxine (Effexor XR) but expect side effects such as nausea, sleepiness, dizziness, decreased appetite and constipation.
QUIT SMOKING AND EXERCISE REGULARLY
If you are diagnosed with diabetic neuropathy, the first thing you should know is that there is no cure yet. However, it is treatable, and one of the best ways is by quitting smoking and exercising as often as you can. These are parts of a comprehensive treatment plan but talk to your doctor before pursuing any exercise routine.
OVER-THE-COUNTER PAIN RELIEVERS
Drugs such as Acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen can all be used to ease mild to moderate pain associated with diabetic neuropathy. However, if you take them regularly, consult with your doctor as they may put you at risk of heart attack, stroke or kidney damage.
As you age, especially past the 40s, you will likely develop several medical conditions, including diabetic neuropathy. However, you can access various treatment options to ensure you don’t have to deal with so much pain. Contact SEPSC and let us improve your quality of life today.