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Diabetic Neuropathy


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.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


You may have ulcers on your feet and not notice them. These foot ulcers may become infected and need surgery. Diabetic neuropathy makes it hard for your heart to cope with exercise and for your body to control your temperature. Damaged nerves may prevent you from recognizing that your blood sugar level is too low. The normal warning signs, such as cold sweats and a rapid heartbeat, may not occur. High blood pressure and heart disease are common with diabetic neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy can also cause problems with vision, digestion, urination, and sexual function.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


You may need 1 or more of the following:

  • Telemetry is continuous monitoring of your heart rhythm. Sticky pads placed on your skin connect to an EKG machine that records your heart rhythm.

  • Blood tests: You may need blood taken to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.

  • An electromyography (EMG) test measures the electrical activity of your muscles at rest and with movement.

  • Radioisotope gastric-emptying scan: A special x-ray machine uses a special camera to take pictures of your stomach. You are given food to eat that has a small, safe amount of radioactive material in it before taking the pictures. Caregivers then watch the pictures to see how quickly the food leaves your stomach. People who are allergic to shellfish (crab, lobster, or shrimp) may be allergic to the material. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to any of these foods.

  • Urine tests: A flow rate recording may be done to measure the speed of your urine stream. A catheter may be used to measure how much urine is left in your bladder after you finish urinating.


Nutrition changes can decrease problems such as vomiting and constipation. Wounds or injuries that are not healing or are infected may need to be treated with surgery or by other methods. You may be given medicines to ease pain or to treat problems such as erectile dysfunction and gastroparesis. You may need these or other medicines:

  • Insulin: This medicine will help to 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.

  • Pain medicine: Caregivers may give you medicine to take away or decrease your pain.

    • Do not wait until the pain is severe to ask for your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease. The medicine may not work as well at controlling your pain if you wait too long to take it.

    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling a caregiver when you want to get out of bed or if you need help.

© 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 (Inpatient Care)