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A common complication caused by prolonged high blood glucose levels, is nerve damage, known as diabetic neuropathy.
Nerves are found throughout your body. They are responsible for everything you feel from warmth and cold to pain. They also play a vital role in controlling your heart rate, digestion system, bladder control and sexual function.
Small blood vessels provide nerves with nutrients and oxygen required to survive and function. Your nerves are extremely sensitive to any change in their oxygen and nutrient supply.
Damage to these small blood vessels occurs when blood, containing high levels of glucose, travels through them on its way to feed your nerves.
When the small blood vessels are damaged, a sufficient supply of nutrients and oxygen no longer reaches the nerve, causing the nerve to become damaged and eventually die.
The first sign of nerve damage occurs in the feet. It might feel like numbness, tingling or burning. If left untreated it can lead to complete loss of feeling, and spread to other parts of the body.
The area of the body most often affected by nerve damage is the feet. Small injuries such as a blister can be undetected due to loss of feeling. Left untreated these injuries can become infected, and, in severe cases, require amputation.
To prevent injuries from progressing, it is important to conduct regular foot exams. This will not require much time, and will help injuries from becoming serious.