Type 2 diabetes can be a 'devastating diagnosis' says expert
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The key to managing type 2 diabetes is to keep blood sugar levels on an even-keel. Insulin normally performs this function but if you have type 2 diabetes, insulin production is severely hampered. The result is rising blood sugar levels, a process that can inflict damage on the body.
Some of the most adverse effects come under neuropathy – nerve damage caused by consistently high blood sugar levels.
Different types of pain can signal proximal neuropathy – a rare and disabling type of nerve damage in your hip, buttock, or thigh.
The initial pain can be “sharp or lancinating, or deep or burning”, said P. James B. Dyck, MD, Consultant of Neurology and Co-Director of the Peripheral Nerve Laboratory at the Mayo Clinic, who, with Doctor Anthony J. Windebank, MD, Professor of Neurology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, wrote a review article in Muscle & Nerve.
In some patients, even tactile stimuli can bring on pain.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), proximal neuropathy typically affects one side of your body and may rarely spread to the other side.
“Over time, high blood glucose, also called blood sugar, and high levels of fats, such as triglycerides, in the blood from diabetes can damage your nerves and the small blood vessels that nourish your nerves, leading to proximal neuropathy,” the health body explains.
It adds: “After symptoms start, they typically get worse and then gradually improve over a period of months or years.”
How to treat neuropathy
The key to treating neuropathy and preventing it from getting worse is to stabilise blood sugar levels.
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Modifying your diet is one of the most important pillars of blood sugar control.
“It’s not only the type of food you eat, but also how much you eat and the combinations of food types you eat,” explains the Mayo Clinic.
According to the health body, carbohydrates often have the biggest impact on your blood sugar levels.
That’s because carbs are broken down into glucose faster than fat or protein, which causes a marked rise in blood sugar levels.
For people taking mealtime insulin, it’s important to know the amount of carbohydrates in your food, so you get the proper insulin dose.
To help you steer clear of the worst offenders, you should refer to the glycaemic index (GI).
The GI is a rating system for foods containing carbohydrates. It shows how quickly each food affects your blood sugar (glucose) level when that food is eaten on its own.
Carbs that are broken down quickly by your body and cause a rapid increase in blood glucose have a high GI rating.
High GI foods include:
- Sugar and sugary foods
- Sugary soft drinks
- White bread
- White rice.
Low or medium GI foods are broken down more slowly and cause a gradual rise in blood sugar levels over time.
They include some fruit and vegetables, pulses and wholegrain foods, such as porridge oats.
The other crucial aspect of blood sugar management is regular physical activity, notes the NHS.
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