5 Neuropathy Facts That You Should Know
Healthcare professionals use the term “neuropathy” to describe various nerve conditions and diseases. Any nerve inside the body is susceptible to disease or injury. Neuropathy is a word used to describe locations or types of affected nerves. Likewise, neuropathy can be more closely classified depending on its original cause. For instance, neuropathy caused from diabetes would be classified as diabetic neuropathy. If you or someone you know suffers from neuropathy, these are 5 facts that will help further inform you about the condition.
1. 20 million Americans suffer from neuropathy.
To put that statistic into perspective, imagine a randomized group of 15 people. One of those people currently suffer from neuropathy. Each year, 3 million new cases arise in patients across the country.
2. There are various types of neuropathy.
Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that affects nerves on the outside of the spinal cord and brain. Cranial neuropathy is diagnosed when one or more of the 12 cranial nerves in the brain are damaged. Autonomic neuropathy is a condition that is caused from damage to the involuntary nervous system, as well as nerves responsible for circulation, heart, blood pressure, bladder/bowl function, digestion, perspiration, and sexual response. Focal neuropathy is a condition that is classified by damage to a single nerve, nerve group, or bodily area.
3. People who suffer from diabetes are at a higher risk for developing neuropathy.
It’s currently estimated that roughly 50% of people with diabetes have (or will develop) neuropathy of some kind. Elevated blood glucose levels contribute to damaged nerves. The small blood vessels in the body are responsible for nourishing nerves. Over time, the excess glucose damages the vessel walls and the fragile coatings which surround nerves are eventually also damaged.
4. Symptoms could be unnoticeable at first.
For those who do experience symptoms from neuropathy, tingling, burning, and pain are often reported. These sensations might be felt in the tips of toes or fingers, and the hands/feet might lose total feeling. Additional symptoms include problems with urination and bowel movements, unusual sweating, erectile dysfunction, swallowing, vomiting shortly after eating, etc. However, in the early stages of neuropathy, it’s common that patients don’t notice anything out of the ordinary.
Lastly, various factors can contribute to nerve damage. Along with high glucose levels, there are other risk factors for developing neuropathy. Those who smoke and have high cholesterol and blood pressure are also at a heightened risk. Research has also suggested that alcohol abuse and obesity can contribute to the development of neuropathy.