Jeanette Terry was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 11 years old, and she has since lived with diabetes through difficult life transitions, including the teenage years, college, and having children. She addresses the day-to-day struggles of living with diabetes—going beyond medical advice—to improve overall adherence and management.  

When I was young and newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, neuropathy—along with the slew of other complications that can be caused by diabetes—were very distant from my reality. That was just something that older people had, I told myself, and I didn’t need to worry.

Through my teenage years and young adulthood, I still didn’t give a second thought to many of the complications that could very possibly be a part of my future.

Now, as I am approaching 30 and my body is showing wear and tear, I am starting to realize that I should have been doing my homework so I would know what to expect and how to best prevent complications such as neuropathy.

Neuropathy in particular is a killer because it can manifest itself in so many different ways. Nerve damage can wreak havoc throughout the body, and quite often you don’t really know what the problem is. You could go through years of warning signs before realizing that your body’s issues could all be connected to diabetes complications that you felt didn’t apply to you.

Remember: Everything about diabetes applies to you. So don’t ignore the things that may not seem important right now.

Neuropathy does not just occur in older diabetics. Individuals of any age can struggle with neuropathy. Sustained high blood sugar levels injure nerve fibers throughout the body and can cause a variety of pain and discomforts. Diabetic neuropathy most commonly affects the nerves in the extremities but can also cause problems with the nerves in the digestives system, urinary tract, blood vessels, and heart. Learn more about the different kinds of neuropathy and the signs to look for.

Even though your legs and feet may not be numb or painful, you may be experiencing some other discomfort that is actually neuropathy. Pay attention to the warning signs for all of the complications associated with diabetes.

Prevention 101

The good news is, there are things you can do to reduce the possibility of nerve damage.

The number one prevention tool is good blood sugar control. The better control you have, the better you will feel, and that is because your body is working the way it was meant to. When there is a lot of sugar in your blood stream, all kinds of things get out of whack. That is when the damage starts to become widespread throughout the body.

Diet and hydration also play a huge role in reducing complications. Eating a well-balanced diet with essential nutrients will help all of the body’s organs stay in tip-top shape. Staying hydrated will help the blood move through the body more efficiently and keep the different areas of the body from getting overworked. Learn more about the nutrients your body needs.

You can have a brighter future by doing everything you can right now to help your body stay healthy and keep your diabetes management under control. But the future isn't our only consideration. We want to feel good now too, right?

By making the best choices for your health and diabetes, you can feel better now and put the worries of diabetes complications on the back burner. You won't want to put them completely out of mind as I once did, but if you’re doing what you can today, complications won’t be a major worry tomorrow.