Monday, April 13, 2009

Diabetic Neuropathy

Let’s start with a good solid definition of Diabetic NeuropathyDiabetic Neuropathy is a group of nerve disorders that occur in diabetics and people suffering from diabetes.  The symptoms of diabetic neuropathy can be numbness in a person’s hands, arms, legs, and feet.  The longer a person has diabetes, the greater the risk that nerve problems will occur.

About 50% of all people that have diabetes also have some form of neuropathy.  People who have neuropathy do not always experience symptoms.  Symptoms are much more likely to be experienced with people who have had diabetes for at least 25 years.  Diabetic Neuropathy is more prevalent in diabetics that have had a history of not being able to control their blood glucose levels, have had high levels of blood fat and high blood pressure, have been overweight or obese, and are over the age of 4o.

There are 4 classes of Diabetic Neuropathy:

  1. Peripheral Diabetic Neuropathy
  2. Autonomic Diabetic Neuropathy
  3. Proximal Diabetic Neuropathy
  4. Focal Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic Neuropathies are defined below.

Peripheral Neuropathy will cause pain and/or a loss of feeling in the one or both arms, hand, feet, leg, and toes. 

Autonomic Neuropathy will cause a change in a person’s digestion, the function of the bowel and bladder, sexual response, and perspiration.   It also may affect the nerves that serve the heart and control blood pressure.

Proximal Neuropathy will cause a pain in a person’s  thigh, hip, or buttock and will lead to weakness in the legs.

Focal Neuropathy will result in the sudden weakness of a nerve, or a small group of nerves, that will cause muscle weakness or pain.  It is possible that every nerve in the body may be affected. 

Blood glucose

levels need to be brought within the normal range to prevent further nerve damage. Symptoms can get worse when blood glucose is initially brought under control, maintaining lower blood glucose levels over time will  help decrease neuropathic symptoms and prevent further problems. Good foot care is necessary and should not be ignored.  Patients will  find that regular walks, warm baths, and using elastic stockings will help relieve leg pain.

Painful Diabetic Neuropathy can manifest itself with a severe burning pain.  There are treatment regiments that a qualified doctor can recommend.  The first thing you will have to do is to get your diabetes under control the best you can.  A doctor may have you take insulin several times a day to accomplish this.  This would just be the first step in a treatment program for painful diabetic neuropathy.

Diabetic Numbness:  It is recommended that diabetics have an annual foot exam to check for peripheral neuropathy. 

A complete examination will include focusing on the feet, skin, muscles, bones, circulation, and sensation.  Focusing on sensation or numbness is important and will be paid attention to during the exam.

Diabetic Food---Diabetic Recipes---Diabetic Nutrition---Carbohydrate Counting

You might as well face it, the days of eating whatever you want, whenever you want are over.

Carbohydrate counting is planning technique for managing your blood glucose levels. You should always remember that food that contains carbohydrates will raise your blood glucose levels.  Keep track of how many carbohydrates you eat and set a limit for your maximum amount to eat.  This will help to keep your blood glucose level within your target range. The right amount of carbohydrates will depend on many factors including how active you are and what, if any, medications you take.

How much carbohydrates?
A good place to start is 45-60 grams of carbohydrates at a meal. Your doctor  will adjust your carbohydrates intake for more or less carbohydrates at meals depending on how you agree to manage your diabetes.  Once you have settled on how many carbohydrates to eat at a meal, you will then choose your food and the portion sizes to match.

Which foods have carbohydrate?
Food that contain carbohydrates are:

starchy foods like bread, cereal, rice, and crackers
fruit and juice
milk and yogurt
dried beans like pinto beans and soy products like veggie burgers
starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn
sweets and snack foods like sodas, juice drinks, cake, cookies, candy, and chips
Non-starchy vegetables have a little bit of carbohydrate but in general are very low.

How much carbohydrate is in these foods?
Reading food labels is a great way to know how much carbohydrate is in a food. For foods that do not have a label, you have to estimate how much carbohydrate is in it. Keeping general serving sizes in mind will help you estimate how much carbohydrate you are eating.

For example there is about 15 grams of carbohydrate in:

1 small piece of fresh fruit (4 oz)
1/2 cup of canned or frozen fruit
1 slice of bread (1 oz) or 1 (6 inch) tortilla
1/2 cup of oatmeal
1/3 cup of pasta or rice
4-6 crackers
1/2 English muffin or hamburger bun
1/2 cup of black beans or starchy vegetable
1/4 of a large baked potato (3 oz)
2/3 cup of plain fat-free yogurt or sweetened with sugar substitutes
2 small cookies
2 inch square brownie or cake without frosting
1/2 cup ice cream or sherbet
1 Tbsp syrup, jam, jelly, sugar or honey
2 Tbsp light syrup
6 chicken nuggets
1/2 cup of casserole
1 cup of soup
1/4 serving of a medium french fry

Protein and Fat
With carbohydrate counting, it is easy to forget about the protein and fat in meals. Always include a source of protein and fat to balance out your meal.

Using Food Labels
Carbohydrate counting is easier when food labels are available. You can look at how much carbohydrate is in the foods you want to eat and decide how much of the food you can eat. The two most important lines with carbohydrate counting are the serving size and the total carbohydrate amount.

1. Look at the serving size. All the information on the label is about this serving of food. If you will be eating a larger serving, then you will need to double or triple the information on the label.

2. Look at the grams of total carbohydrate.
Total carbohydrate on the label includes sugar, starch, and fiber.
Know the amount of carbohydrates  you can eat, figure out the portion size to match.

Other important label information:
3. If you are trying to lose weight, look at the calories. Comparing products can be helpful to find those lower in calories per serving.

4.To cut risk of heart disease and stroke, look at saturated and trans fats. Look for products with the lowest amount of saturated and trans fats per serving.

5. For people with high blood pressure, look at the sodium. Look for foods with less sodium.

Control of your diabetes is key.  Proper diet and nutrition is a good first step to controlling both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Diabetic Neuropathy is serious and should be taken seriously.  Always consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet, lifestyle, or daily activities.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Diabetes Symptoms

What are the Symptoms of Diabetes?

  • Too much glucose in your blood and not enough in the cells of your body.
  • Frequent urination.  You are making way too many trips to the bathroom.
  • You are constantly thirsty.  You can drink water constantly and still fell thirsty.
  • You have unexplained weight loss.  Your not on a diet or eating less, yet you are still losing weight.
  • You always feel tired and run down.
  • Your hand, feet, and/or legs have a tingling sensation. 
  • Blurred Vision – Itchy and Dry Skin - Infections|Cuts or Bruises that don’t heal quickly.

All of these are Diabetes Symptoms that should motivate you to make a doctor’s appointment to get a check up.

The Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes and Pre Diabetes

  • Interestingly there really are no signs or symptoms for pre diabetes.  Most of the time a doctor during a normal physical will discover that you have pre diabetes when he is screening your blood for glucose levels.

There is a bit of good news.  If your doctor tells you that you have pre diabetes there is a good chance that you might be able to prevent type 2 diabetes from taking hold.  A healthy lifestyle is the key to prevention.  It will improve the way that your body uses insulin.  You must lose fat and gain muscle.  Eating healthy and exercising are your main weapons in fighting type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms

First let’s talk about what Type 1 Diabetes is.  Too put it simply and bluntly, Type 1 Diabetes is with you for life.  There is nothing you can do to prevent it or to get rid of it.  Your job will be diabetes control.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce the proper amount of insulin to control blood sugar levels.  You might have heard type 1 diabetes referred to as Juvenile Diabetes or Insulin Dependent Diabetes.

When there isn’t enough insulin in your body, the glucose that is present won’t go into your cells.  Instead it will build up in your bloodstream.  This is why you will feel hungry---Your cells are not getting the nutrition they need.

Type 1 diabetes is most often initially found in people younger than 30 years old.  But it can occur in people of all ages.  Nobody really knows why Type 1 diabetes occurs.  The causes of diabetes, especially type 1 diabetes is a mystery.  Diabetes signs will usually occur very fast.

Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Unexplained Weight Loss
  • Increased Urination
  • Increased Thirst

If you are somebody you know has signs that indicate Type 1 Diabetes then the doctor will most likely perform the following tests to diagnose diabetes:

  • Urinalysis
  • Fasting Blood Glucose
  • Random Blood Glucose
  • Insulin Test
  • C Peptide Test

Diabetes Treatment

The goal of treatment is to treat the diabetic ketoacidosis and of course the high glucose levels.  It is not unusual for newly diagnosed patients with diabetes symptoms to be hospitalized until the disease is brought under control.

The objective of the diabetes treatment is to prolong life and help reduce the diabetes symptoms.  There are complications associated with diabetes that also need to be prevented:  blindness, kidney failure, and the amputation of limbs.

The diagnosed person will need to control the diabetes with proper insulin use, strict diet, exercise, weight control, and testing of glucose levels.


Insulin is at the heart of the disease and it is what helps control diabetes.  What insulin does is lower blood sugar.  It accomplishes this by being able to leave the blood stream and enter the cells where it is needed.  All living creatures need insulin.  The problem that occurs with people with type 1 diabetes is that their bodies can’t produce insulin.  So they must take insulin every single day.

Insulin can be taken in a variety of different ways.  It can be injected, it can be administered by a pump, or it can be inhaled.  Insulin injections may be needed from 1 to 4 times a day.

Ketones and Diabetes

The presence of ketones in the bloodstream is not an uncommon complication of diabetes.  If the ketones are not treated in a timely manner it very well may lead to ketoacidosis.

Ketones is the acid that remains when your body burns its own fat.  When your body can’t obtain the proper amount of glucose from your blood to utilize as energy it will start to burn fat.  When your body is burning more fat then is normal, it might cause ketones to appear in your bloodstream.

Ketoacidosis is a extremely serious condition, so please pay attention.  Your bodies energy is mainly derived from sugar.  Insulin is a hormone that is produced in the pancreas and it metabolizes blood sugar.  Unfortunately, insulin is either not present or present at extremely low levels in diabetes patients.

When your body does not have the ability to burn sugar it will turn its attention to burning up stored fat.  This is where the problem begins.  When the body burns up stored fat, ketone will start building up.  When the ketone levels become to high, the risk of ketoacidosis is raised.  This is definately an emergency condition that very well may lead to coma, and even death.

Anyone with type 1 diabetes should be tested for ketones.  If you find ketones present in your urine it is a sign that you along with your doctor will have to make adjustments to the way your diabetes is being managed.

Pregnant women that are diabetics and pregnant women who develop gestational diabetes should also have ketone testing done.

Your doctor is your best source of information when it comes to the proper time to test for ketones.  Generally speaking ketone testing should be done when:

  • Your blood sugar level is at or above 250mg/dl for two tests in a row.
  • Whenever you get sick (even a minor illness)
  • If you have diarrhea or vomit
  • You suffer from depression and/or stress
  • You are pregnant

The Ketone Test

Luckily the ketone test is very simple.  All it takes is a dip and read of a urine test strip.  If the color changes on the strip, it means there are ketones in your urine. 

What You Should Do

If your strip changes color you will need to contact your doctor and him/her know.  If there are very small amounts of ketones showing up you should:  drink water every hour, continue testing every three hours, do not exercise.  If your ketone levels do not decrease after two tests, then you will need to call your doctor and them know.  If the test shows moderate or high ketone numbers then call your doctor immediately and continue to drink water.

I want to emphasize that this is a informational site and not a replacement for the advice of a trained medical doctor.  If you have any unusual signs concerning your health, you will need to call your doctor.

Diabetic Symptoms

Diabetic Symptoms, especially for Type 2 Diabetes, sometimes do not reveal themselves or are masked as not too serious.

Many people have type 2 diabetes, diabetes mellitus, for many years before developing any symptoms at all.  When the diabetic symptoms do get revealed they vary quite a bit.  But it seems all people with diabetic symptoms will have these two:  increased thirst and frequent urination.

The reason these two symptoms are so prevalent is because extra glucose circulating in your body draws water from your tissues, making you feel dehydrated.  To relieve your thirst, you drink a lot of water.  Of course drinking a lot of water will lead to frequent urination.

Signs of Diabetes

  • Flu like symptoms
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Blurred Vision
  • Slow healing sores
  • Nerve Damage
  • Red, Swollen, Infected Gums


Insulin is a hormone and a protein that is created in a person’s pancreas.  Carbohydrates, or sugar, are absorbed from the intestines into the bloodstream after a meal.  Insulin is then secreted by the pancreas in response to the added blood sugar.  Most of the cells in the body will have insulin receptors which will bind the insulin which is in the circulation.  When a cell has insulin attached to its surface, the cell activates other receptors designed to absorb glucose (sugar) from the blood stream into the inside of the cell.

Without insulin, you can eat lots of food and actually be in a state of starvation because many of our cells will not be able to absorb the calories contained in the glucose very well without the action of insulin.  This is why type 1 diabetics need to take insulin shots.  Type 2 diabetics will develop a resistance to insulin.

Blood Sugar

The average American consumes an astounding 2-3 pounds of sugar each week, which is not surprising considering that highly refined sugars in the forms of sucrose (table sugar), dextrose (corn sugar), and high-fructose corn syrup are being processed into so many foods such as bread, breakfast cereal, mayonnaise, peanut butter, ketchup, spaghetti sauce, and a plethora of microwave meals. 

In the last 20 years, we have increased sugar consumption in the U.S. 26 pounds to 135 lbs. of sugar per person per year! Prior to the turn of this century (1887-1890), the average consumption was only 5 lbs. per person per year! Cardiovascular disease and cancer was virtually unknown in the early 1900's.

The "glycemic index" is a measure of how a given food affects blood-glucose levels, with each food being assigned a numbered rating. The lower the rating, the slower the absorption and digestion process, which provides a more gradual, healthier infusion of sugars into the bloodstream. On the other hand, a high rating means that blood-glucose levels are increased quickly, which stimulates the pancreas to secrete insulin to drop blood-sugar levels. These rapid fluctuations of blood-sugar levels are not healthy because of the stress they place on the body.

One of sugar's major drawbacks is that it raises the insulin level, which inhibits the release of growth hormones, which in turn depresses the immune system. This is not something you want to take place if you want to avoid disease.

An influx of sugar into the bloodstream upsets the body's blood-sugar balance, triggering the release of insulin, which the body uses to keep blood-sugar at a constant and safe level. Insulin also promotes the storage of fat, so that when you eat sweets high in sugar, you're making way for rapid weight gain and elevated triglyceride levels, both of which have been linked to cardiovascular disease. Complex carbohydrates tend to be absorbed more slowly, lessening the impact on blood-sugar levels.

Diabetes Symptoms

As you have seen there are many symptoms related to diabetes.  Please be careful about your diet.  Obesity and Diabetes is a epidemic in this country and around the world.  You not only have to watch your diet but you will also need control your stress levels in order to keep diabetes under control. 

There are many symptoms that diabetics need to be on the lookout for.  Regular check ups by your healthcare provider is you first and best line of defense when taking care of your health and discovering diabetes symptoms.