A US study finds that two rare types of diabetic neuropathy are now more common in the US, and have urged for people to be aware of the symptoms.
Autonomic and small fiber neuropathy develops when the blood vessels which supply the nerves get damaged. The blood vessels then die because of a lack of oxygen and nutrients.
In people with diabetes this can be caused by high blood sugar levels, and researchers are now urging people to see their doctor if they experience early symptoms.
Dr Divpreet Kaur, a neurologist at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, said: “The most common symptom is light headedness, especially when standing up. The blood pressure drops so much when they stand up that they feel like they are going to pass out.
“People don’t know about it or recognise the symptoms, and they keep going to different physicians without receiving a diagnosis.”
Autonomic neuropathy also affects the body’s blood pressure, sexual function, urination, digestion and temperature control.
The nerve fibers which control pain and temperature sensations become damaged in small fiber neuropathy. People with the condition often experience burning pain in their feet which often travels further up the body.
“It isn’t that every patient who has these symptoms will definitely have such a neuropathy,” added Kaur, who recommends that anyone with diabetes who starts to experience the first signs of those symptoms should immediately see their doctor.
There is no cure for neuropathy and the outcome of treatment can be varied, depending which part of the person’s body has been affected.
It is thought neuropathy affects up to 50 per cent of people with either type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes. People who are at greater risk of developing the condition are those who do not manage their diabetes well, are overweight, are over the age of 40 and have high blood pressure.

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