Diabetes is a common health condition worldwide, with a global prevalence of approximately 2.8 percent in 2000, expected to rise to 4.4 percent by 2030.1 Of the many complications affecting people with diabetes, one of the most common is peripheral neuropathy, damage to the nerves in the body’s extremities, including the arms and legs. Such nerve damage affects a large proportion of patients who have had diabetes for significant periods of time. In one study of 4,400 patients who were followed for 25 years, half of those studied developed neuropathy.2
Peripheral neuropathy related to diabetes causes varied symptoms with a potential for serious damage which can lead to changes in sensation in legs and arms ranging from numbness to extreme sensitivity. Loss of sensation, especially in the feet, can be dangerous, as inadvertent injuries can lead to further complications. Other symptoms include muscle wasting, stomach and gastrointestinal problems and dizziness. Peripheral neuropathy is when the nerve damage and symptoms are experienced in the body’s extremities; other forms of neuropathy affect organs and other parts of the body’s core.*
The causes of peripheral neuropathy symptoms clearly involve damage to the body’s nerves, but how diabetes causes such damage is less clear. Risk factors include long-term elevated blood glucose, a defining characteristic of diabetes, but other factors involving the cardiovascular system, immune system and even mechanical injury may also play a role. Nevertheless, controlling blood glucose through proper nutrition habits and appropriate medical care is generally an effective way to avoid or improve the symptoms associated with peripheral neuropathy.3 At Nestlé Health Science, we are actively involved in the research and development of nutritional therapies to address complications caused by diabetes, in order to improve patients’ quality of life.
- Wild S, Roglic G, Green A, Sicree R, King H. Global Prevalence of Diabetes Estimates for the year 2000 and projections for 2030. Diabetes Care. 2004 May; 27(5):1047-53.
*Listed symptoms are not all-inclusive, actual patient symptoms may vary.