Medical experts have yet to determine why diabetes affects the nervous system, but they do know that regular instances of elevated blood sugar in someone with diabetes can cause damage to the nerves. This damage is known as diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Neuropathy generally begins in the extremities and is demonstrated by a variety of symptoms, the most common of which are tingling, burning or loss of sensitivity.
1. Go shoe shopping. They may not be stylish, but if your feet are tingling, it may be time to see a specialist and order a pair of custom-made orthopaedic shoes. Many people wear poorly fitting shoes, which can lead to misalignment of the toe joints and can cause nerve growths known as neuromas. Custom-made shoes are made to fit your feet and no one else’s, allowing for proper support and encouraging good circulation. Even then, they will need to be replaced at least once a year. Not only do the shoes get run down after a certain amount of wear, but feet have a tendency to lengthen and spread as people age.
2. Wash your feet every day with mild, antibacterial soap, warm water and a stiff bristled brush. There are more than 200,000 sweat glands on the foot, generating a moist environment that creates the perfect environment to facilitate the growth of bacteria. If you’re suffering from diabetic neuropathy, you’re less likely to notice a foot injury and consequently are more prone to infections. Additionally, the brush’s extra stimulation can increase circulation and improve blood flow to the area.
3. Get more exercise. Set a goal of 30 minutes per day. Short but frequent walks or bursts of exercise can help relieve the tingling sensation and offset the continued development of nerve pain. Also, regular exercise helps to keep your blood sugar stable.
4. Control your blood sugar. Check your glucose several times a day to ensure you meet the following guidelines: 90 to 130 milligrams before meals and approximately 180 milligrams one to two hours after eating-unless your doctor recommends otherwise.
5. Follow the recommended diabetic diet. Focus on controlling your blood sugar level and be sure you measure your food to ensure accurate portions. Also, make sure to eat at approximately the same time each day.
6. Consider switching medications or changing your insulin regime. According to a recent study by the American Diabetic Association, diabetics who took insulin injections three or more times daily reduced the odds of developing tingling in the extremities or other symptoms of neuropathy by more than 60 percent.
7. Consider alternative therapies such as acupuncture or surgical decompression to reduce the sensations caused by the nerves and to discourage further degeneration.