Prediabetes may do more damage to nerves than suspected

Nervous system
Nervous system

Prediabetes may cause more nerve damage than previously believed, researchers say.

The beginning of nerve deterioration

"The results of this new study add urgency to the need for more screening of those with the condition and faster intervention," said senior study author Dr Michael Polydefkis, a professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The study included 62 people, including 52 with tingling and pain in their hands and feet – a condition known as neuropathy. Diabetes is a common cause of neuropathy, the researchers said.

Read: The importance of managing your diabetes

Thirteen participants had prediabetes, meaning their blood sugar levels were higher than normal but not yet at the point of diabetes.

Over three years, the researchers found that those with prediabetes had damage over the entire length of small sensory nerve fibres, rather than just at the longest ends first. The findings challenge current understanding of prediabetes-related nerve damage, the researchers said.

The study was published online in the journal JAMA Neurology.

"I liken small-fibre neuropathy to the canary in the coal mine," Polydefkis said in a university news release.

Read: What may cause diabetes

"It signals the beginning of nerve deterioration that with time involves other types of nerve fibres and becomes more apparent and dramatically affects people's quality of life," he explained.

According to the American Diabetes Association, you can reduce your risk of progressing from prediabetes to diabetes by losing 7 percent of your body weight (for example, 14 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds) and by exercising moderately 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

Read more

City life may increase your diabetes risk

Fitness in youth may protect you from diabetes later in life

New medical procedure offers hope for diabetes patients with gastroparesis

Image: Nervous system from iStock

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Show Comments ()
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.