Diabetes type 2 symptoms: How symptoms progress in the feet – three main stages

Type 2 diabetes can be a 'devastating diagnosis' says expert

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Type 2 diabetes means the body does not produce enough insulin or the insulin it does produce is not being absorbed by the cells. Insulin is a hormone that’s responsible for regulating blood sugar – the main type of sugar found in blood. High blood sugar levels can damage the body so diabetics are disproportionately at risk.

Some of the most devastating effects of high blood sugar are associated with neuropathy.

Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage caused by consistently high blood sugar levels.

The symptoms of neuropathy tend to develop in the feet.

According to the American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine (AANEM), there are three stages to neuropathy.

“First one may experience intermittent pain and tingling in extremities, particularly in the feet,” explains the AANEM.

“In later stages, the pain is more intense and constant.”

According to the AANEM, all pain sensation is lost to an area in the last stage.

“This greatly increases the risk of severe tissue injury because the patient can no longer detect pain to let them know they are injured,” the health body warns.

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How to treat diabetic neuropathy

The primary treatment for diabetic neuropathy involves lowering high blood sugar levels.

There are two important components to blood sugar reduction – diet and exercise.

According to the NHS, there’s nothing you cannot eat if you have type 2 diabetes, but you’ll have to limit certain foods.

The worst offenders are carbohydrates because they are broken down into glucose relatively fast.

Carbs that cause a rapid increase in blood glucose have a high glycaemic index (GI).

The GI is a rating system for foods containing carbohydrates – it shows how quickly each food affects your blood sugar (glucose) level when that food is eaten on its own.

High GI foods include:

  • Sugar and sugary foods
  • Sugary soft drinks
  • White bread
  • Potatoes
  • White rice.

Low or medium GI foods are broken down more slowly and cause a gradual rise in blood sugar levels over time.

They include:

  • Some fruit and vegetables
  • Pulses
  • Wholegrain foods, such as porridge oats.

However, other factors must also be taken into account.

“Research has shown that the amount of carbohydrate you eat, rather than its GI rating, has the biggest influence on blood glucose levels after meals,” explains the NHS.

According to the health body, it’s also important to eat a healthy, balanced diet that is low in fat, sugar and salt, and high in fruit and vegetables.

“If you’ve been advised to make changes to your diet, or you need advice, a diabetes dietitian can help you work out a diet plan.”

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