Managing Blood Sugar Levels
As you may know by now, high blood sugar content worsens diabetic neuropathy. The damage is irreversible but we can slow down the process by keeping a constant check on our blood sugar levels. Your doctor will inform you about the number of times you should check your blood sugar throughout the day. Ideally, a diabetic patient must check their blood sugar from 4 – 10 times a day. This differs for type 1 and type 2 diabetic patients.
If you keep a constant watch on blood sugar and ensure that it is in range, you would notice lesser pains on other parts of your body. Not only does this prevent the occurrence of diabetic neuropathy but slows down the process immensely. Medication helps you manage blood sugar but we must take conscious initiatives to ensure that our glycaemic index is on the low. Diet and exercise are the two most important ways by which we can keep this condition under control.
Diet is one of the most important ways by which you can control diabetic neuropathy, especially if your condition limits you from doing certain exercises. We need to eat what we can digest without producing more glucose than what our body needs.
A diabetic patient may neglect their diet sometimes but when we are diagnosed with diabetic neuropathy, we face the consequences of not eating right. Too much sugar can aggravate our condition and increase sensitivity around our feet.
Simple rules come a long way. Make sure you have enough B12 in your diet. Many older individuals have a B12 deficiency and that lack of it can worsen peripheral neuropathy, so, ensure that you get your B12 levels checked. Include natural B12 sources in your diet or add a supplement if your doctor suggests it.
Go for small portions of lean meat that is easy to digest along with a lot of vegetables for roughage. Diabetic patients avoid food that has more sugar or starch but to maintain a healthy lifestyle, you must reduce your salt, potassium and phosphorus int intake. Food that has a lower glycaemic index are the ones that put less pressure on your kidneys are best for your condition. Choose whole wheat bread and roti (flat Indian bread) instead of the ones made with white flour. Substitute potatoes with sweet potatoes. Choose fibrous fruits and vegetables like carrot, and apple because they help you keep your diabetes under control.
Talk to a dietician before enforcing a strict diet. Every diabetic patient has different affected areas and therefore exhibit different symptoms. Some of us can exercise and therefore are in a better position for a flexible diet while others need to follow a strict diet plan. A dietician can study your medical history, evaluate our current lifestyle and design a diet plan accordingly.
Food and exercise are important parts of diabetic neuropathy. Consult your doctor before attempting any exercises to be safe. The main purpose of neuropathy specific exercise is to stimulate blood cells and allow better oxygenation around affected areas. Start by simple stretches around your feet and arms. You can use a sturdy, non-stretchable, band to help you stretch your legs out. Workouts like leg lifts also help build stronger legs and allow better circulation.
As diabetic neuropathy increases slowly, you may struggle to keep your balance and therefore exercises that improve your balance will prolong the conditions from getting worse. Hold a stool for support and slowly raise your body until you are on your toes, hold the position for five seconds and come down slowly on your heal. Make sure the movement is slow and steady to promote blood circulation around the heal area. You can also stand on one leg and swap after equal intervals. Hold on to a stool or wall for better control and slowly increase the difficulty by leaving the wall.
Rolling ankles and wrists both clockwise and anticlockwise direction are also great ways to stimulate blood flow. They are simple exercises that anyone can do. Many diabetic neuropathic patients say they benefit from breathing exercises and yoga. Walking also helps diabetic neuropathic patients but it’s important to consult your doctor before adding a walk in your everyday life. Some patients can walk for hours while others may worsen their condition by walking for more than 30 minutes.
As we discussed earlier, a diabetic neuropathic patient may loose sensations from their feet. This may be the reason for cuts and wounds to go unnoticed. These cuts and wounds can later cause infections or worse, gangrene. It is better to be mindful of the injuries we have. Take out time every day to check for sores, cuts, wounds and foot ulcers. You will not have to spend more than 15 minutes examining your arms, hands, palms, legs, and feet.
Give special attention to your feet as most foot injuries go unnoticed. Examine the heels of your feet and between your fingers. Move your limbs as you examine how well you can feel your feet. For better health, do a thorough check-up with your doctor at least once every year.
Maintain hygiene and moisture levels, especially around your feet
Research shows that almost 85% of foot amputations have occurred because of untreated foot ulcers. But foot ulcers are almost inevitable among diabetic patients. They occur because a diabetic neuropathic foot is much more fragile and therefore susceptible to injuries from friction, and from the weight of your entire body. Sometimes, injected insulin increases the chances of foot ulcers.
Most Diabetic patients have had a foot ulcer at least once. It is a common occurrence, but exercise, proper diet, and hygiene can reduce their occurrences and also keep your neuropathy under control. To make sure foot ulcers never become anything serious, proper care and hygiene is a must. Make sure your feet are always clean and dry. Sweat accumulation can not only cause foot ulcers but also infections, which due to neuropathy, can go unnoticed. If you have sweaty feet, make sure you wash your feet with a mild soap and pat dry each foot.
Wearing sturdy shoes outdoors and protective socks indoors is also a must. They will give you the right amount of protection from injuries and reduce the chances of foot ulcers. But not all socks are appropriate for diabetic neuropathic patients. In the section below we will look at Syounaa Socks and the role they play in managing your diabetic neuropathy.