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Diabetes and your body - the nervous system

Diabetes and your body - the nervous system

What does it do?

The nervous system contains a network of cells called neurons that transmit signals between different parts of our body, and consists of two parts – central and peripheral. The peripheral nervous system consists of sensory neurons, clusters of neurons called ganglia, and nerves connecting them to each other and to the central nervous system.

How can diabetes damage it?

Neuropathy is a complication of diabetes that can cause damage to the nerves of the peripheral nervous system, which include the groups of sensory, motor and autonomic nerves. Symptoms differ depending on the groups of nerves affected. Some people may not be aware they have neuropathy because they are not inconvenienced by it, but it can still lead to problems. 

What you can do to protect yourself

  •  Make sure that your blood glucose is within your agreed target range.
  • Have your feet checked – the skin, circulation and shape of your feet should be examined annually. You should be told if you have any risk of foot problems, how serious they are and if you will be referred to a specialist podiatrist or specialist foot clinic.
  • Make foot care part of your daily routine, just like managing your blood glucose and diet. Be aware of any loss of sensation in your feet.
  • Ask someone to assess the feeling in your toes by doing the Touch the Toes test.
  • Avoid using corn-removing plasters or blades.
  • Keep useful numbers handy, and know who to contact at the first sign of problems with your feet.

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