Poor nerve health and function in the extremities—a condition called peripheral neuropathy—can be extremely dangerous. If you aren’t able to feel your feet when they get hurt—or you can’t trust the sensations you do experience—it becomes much easier to overlook serious injuries that require immediate care.
Unfortunately, neuropathy is also exceedingly common, especially among those with diabetes. The numbers here are dire—more than 30 million Americans (almost 10 percent of the population) have diabetes, and it’s estimated that more than 60 percent of them have some form of neuropathy.
But that doesn’t mean loss of nerve function is inevitable! Smart choices can help you prevent this unfortunate outcome, or at least slow the progression so that the symptoms never become serious. Here are some tips to help you:
- Keep your sugar levels within a healthy range. High blood sugar levels can damage nerves, even without a formal diabetes diagnosis. If you do have diabetes, test regularly and always be prepared.
- Exercise regularly. Staying fit and active helps your bloodstream deliver oxygen and nutrients to nerves and other tissues more efficiently.
- Eat a healthy diet. You know the drill here—fruits, veggies, lean protein, whole grains. Nerves especially need nutrients such as B-complex vitamins, thiamin, niacin, and riboflavin to thrive.
- If you’re a smoker, quit. Smoking has severe consequences for circulatory health, which in turn deprives nerves of the nutrition they need.
- Don’t abuse alcohol. Alcoholism is the second-leading cause of peripheral neuropathy after diabetes. Drinking in moderation is fine, but don’t let it control you.
- Avoid repetitive motions or awkward positions. You may notice tingling or numbness after crossing your legs, crouching for long periods of time, or other activities. These can aggravate and damage the nerves over time, so try to avoid them as much as possible.
- Schedule a comprehensive checkup regularly. Patients with diabetes and/or neuropathy should have regular appointments with a foot specialist—usually once per year, sometimes more. This gives us an opportunity to screen for future problems, treat any ongoing concerns, and help you make any necessary adjustments to medications or preventative care.
Through regular checkups and a little daily discipline, you can prevent the onset of peripheral neuropathy and protect yourself against life-altering complications. To schedule your appointment with Dr. Timothy Dailey at Freeland Foot Clinic, please give us a call!