Diabetes and Peripheral Neuropathy in Figures
Peripheral neuropathy is the medical term for damage to the nerves outside your brain and spinal cord. Nerve damage that develops as a complication of diabetes is known as diabetic peripheral neuropathy.²
Here are a few key statistics about diabetes and peripheral neuropathy:³ ⁴
100% of diabetics are at risk of developing peripheral neuropathy
as many as 50% of diabetics develop peripheral neuropathy
up to 50% of people with diabetic peripheral neuropathy don’t experience any symptoms
Risk Factors For People With Diabetes
If you have diabetes, here are some risk factors for peripheral neuropathy you should be aware of:
Blood Sugar Control
This is the greatest risk factor for diabetic complications, including nerve damage.
High blood sugar. Research has shown that high blood sugar is a major cause of nerve damage, so avoiding spikes and keeping blood sugar consistently within your target range is the best way to protect the health of your nerves and blood vessels.
Diabetes medication. Metformin—a common diabetes medication—can cause vitamin B deficiency as a side effect. Vitamin B deficiency is another known cause of peripheral neuropathy.
Other Risk Factors and Complications
Vitamin B deficiency. A low level of B vitamins can be a major contributing factor to peripheral neuropathy in people with diabetes. If you have diabetes, ask your doctor about taking a vitamin B complex.⁶
Duration of diabetes. Your risk of diabetic neuropathy increases the longer you have diabetes, especially if your blood sugar level isn't well-controlled.⁵
Kidney disease. Diabetes can cause damage to the kidneys, which may in turn lead to nerve damage. The reasons for this are not fully understood, but one factor may be an increased loss of essential vitamins that are crucial for a healthy nervous system.⁷
Being overweight. Being overweight or obese may increase your risk of diabetic peripheral neuropathy.⁸
Smoking. If you are diabetic, cigarettes increase your risk for neuropathy, so quitting is essential to limit the development of diabetic complications.⁹
High blood pressure. This condition, also known as hypertension, is a risk factor for both cardiovascular disease and diabetic neuropathy.¹⁰
Foot care. Diabetic patients are at high risk of unknowingly injuring their feet due to pamamanhid (numbness). In people with diabetes, this pamamanhid (numbness) is the result of nerve damage and commonly starts in the feet. Look after your feet and have them checked regularly by your doctor or check them yourself to prevent sores, ulcers or even gangrene.¹¹
For some people, the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy are mild. For others, diabetic neuropathy can be painful and debilitating.
Diabetes also affects the metabolism of the neurotropic vitamins B1, B6, and B12, leading to a greater risk of deficiencies. As these vitamins are essential for nerve health, keeping their level within the normal range is of vital importance.
In addition to following the other advice in this article, taking a vitamin B complex like Vitamins B1+B6+B12 (NEUROBION®) or Vitamins B1+B6+B12 (NEUROBION® Forte) could help reduce the risk of nerve damage if you have diabetes.