WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Diabetic neuropathy (DN) is a condition caused by nerve damage from long-term high blood sugar levels. DN is a complication of diabetes that is not controlled. The most common nerve damage occurs in the legs, feet, arms, or hands. Nerves in your eyes, heart, digestive system, or sexual organs may also be damaged.
- Insulin: This medicine will help decrease your blood sugar level by moving the sugar into cells so it can be used for energy.
- Hypoglycemic medicine: This medicine may be given to decrease the amount of sugar in your blood. Hypoglycemic medicine helps your body move the sugar to your cells, where it is needed for energy.
- Antinausea medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your stomach and prevent vomiting.
- Motility medicine: This medicine is given to help your stomach muscles move food and liquids out of your stomach faster. This medicine also may help you digest food better.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your healthcare provider or diabetes specialist as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Blood sugar control:
Keep your blood sugar level in the range that your healthcare providers have told you it should be. Ask your diabetes specialist or healthcare provider how often you should have an A1c test. The test shows your average amount of blood sugar over the past 2 to 3 months. Ask when and how often to check your blood sugar level. You may need to check at least 3 times each day.
Diabetic neuropathy can make it hard to feel problems with your feet. Ask your healthcare provider for more information on foot care. The following are ways you can help prevent injuries and problems with your feet:
- Wear shoes and socks that fit well. Wear socks that do not bunch or crease in your shoes.
- Check and carefully wash and dry your feet each day.
- Soak your feet in warm soapy water for 10 minutes before you cut your nails. Trim your toenails straight across to prevent ingrown toenails. You may also use a nail file. Do not cut your nails into the corners or close to the skin. Do not dig under or around the nail.
A dietitian will help you make a meal plan to keep your blood sugar level steady.
- Keep track of carbohydrates (sugar and starchy foods): Your blood sugar level can get too high if you eat too many carbohydrates in 1 meal or snack.
- Eat low-fat foods: Choose foods that are low in fat. Some examples are skinless chicken and low-fat milk.
- Eat less sodium: Limit foods that are high in sodium (salt), such as soy sauce, potato chips, and soup. Do not add salt to food you cook. Limit your use of table salt.
- Eat high-fiber foods: Foods that are a good source of fiber include vegetables, whole-grain breads, and beans.
Alcohol affects your blood sugar levels and can make it harder to manage your diabetes. Women should limit alcohol to 1 drink a day. Men should limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.
Exercise can keep your blood sugar level steady, decrease your risk of heart disease, and help you lose weight. Do at least 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days a week. Work with your healthcare provider to plan the best exercise program for you. If your blood sugar level is less than 100 mg/dL, have a carbohydrate snack before exercise. Examples are 4 to 6 crackers, ½ banana, 8 ounces (1 cup) of milk, or 4 ounces (½ cup) of juice. Do not exercise if your blood sugar level is high and you have ketones in your urine or blood. Even a 10 to 15 pound weight loss can help to manage your blood sugar levels.
If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking can worsen the problems that can occur with diabetes. Ask your healthcare provider for information about how to stop smoking if you are having trouble quitting.
Medical alert identification:
Wear medical alert jewelry or carry a card that says you have diabetes. Ask your healthcare provider or diabetes specialist where to get these items.
Contact your diabetes specialist or healthcare provider if:
- Your signs or symptoms are getting worse.
- Your blood sugar level is higher or lower than healthcare providers have told you it should be.
- You have redness, calluses, or sores on your feet.
- You have a wound that does not heal or is red, swollen, or draining fluid.
- You have diarrhea, constipation, nausea, or vomiting.
- You have new sexual problems.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Return to the emergency department if:
- Your legs or feet turn blue or black.
- You have pain, pressure, or fullness in your chest that lasts longer than a few minutes or returns.
- You have pain or discomfort in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm.
- You have an upset stomach.
- You have a sudden cold sweat.
© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.
The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
Learn more about Diabetic Neuropathy (Aftercare Instructions)
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