Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size
A
A
A

What Is Diabetic Neuropathy?

Diabetes can harm your nerves. That damage, called neuropathy, may be painful.

It can happen in several ways, and they all seem to be related to blood sugar levels being too high for too long. To prevent it, work with your doctor to manage your blood sugar.

Recommended Related to Diabetes

7 Tips for Diabetes-Friendly Cooking

Who says that having diabetes means you can’t still whip up delicious, homemade food? When you know the basics of meal planning, you can make almost any recipe work. So don’t throw out your cookbooks or toss your favorite recipes. Instead, take some tips about how to cook wisely.

Read the 7 Tips for Diabetes-Friendly Cooking article > >

You may hear your doctor mention the four types of diabetes-related neuropathy: peripheral, autonomic, proximal, and focal.

Peripheral Neuropathy

This type usually affects the feet and legs. Rare cases affect the arms, abdomen, and back.

Symptoms include:

  • Tingling
  • Numbness (which may become permanent)
  • Burning (especially in the evening)
  • Pain

Early symptoms usually get better when your blood sugar is under control. There are medications to help manage the discomfort.

What you should do:

  • Check your feet and legs daily.
  • Use lotion on your feet if they're dry.
  • Take care of your toenails. Ask your doctor if you should go to a podiatrist.
  • Wear shoes that fit well. Wear them all the time, so your feet don't get injured.

 

Autonomic Neuropathy

This type usually affects the digestive system, especially the stomach. It can also affect the blood vessels, urinary system, and sex organs.

In your digestive system:

Symptoms include:

  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Feeling full after small meals

What you should do: You may need to eat smaller meals and take medication to treat it.

In blood vessels:

Symptoms include: 

  • Blacking out when you stand up quickly
  • Faster heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Feeling full sooner than normal

If you have it: Avoid standing up too quickly. You may also need to wear special stockings (ask your doctor about them) and take medicine.

In Men:

Symptoms include: He may not be able to have or keep an erection, or he may have “dry” or reduced ejaculations. 

What you should do: See your doctor, because there are other possible causes than diabetes. Treatment includes:

  • Counseling
  • Penile implant or injections
  • Vacuum erection device
  • Medication

In Women

Symptoms include: Can include less vaginal lubrication and fewer or no orgasms.

What you should do: See your doctor. Treatments include:

  • Vaginal estrogen creams, suppositories, and rings
  • Medications to help sex not feel painful
  • Lubricants

In the Urinary System:

Symptoms include:

  • Trouble emptying your bladder
  • Bloating
  • Incontinence (leaking urine)
  • More bathroom trips at night

What you should do: Tell your doctor. Treatments may include:

  • Medication
  • Inserting a catheter into the bladder to release urine (self-catheterization)
  • Surgery

 

Next Article:

To better manage diabetes, I need: