Calm Your Nerves about Pre-Diabetes

Prediabetes may not directly cause diabetic polyneuropathies

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(RxWiki News) In almost all cases, people have prediabetes before they develop type 2 diabetes. Like diabetes, prediabetes has been linked to complications such as nerve damage. Now, new research may break that link.

The rates of diabetic polyneuropathy (nerve damage associated with diabetes) are similar in people with prediabetes and healthy people.

This finding suggests that prediabetes may not be to blame for many cases of nerve damage.

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Polyneuropathies are characterized by the loss of nerve function over time. This type of nerve damage is associated with diabetes and other conditions involving high blood sugar, including prediabetes.

In a recent study, Peter J. Dyck, M.D., a neurologist at Mayo Clinic, and his colleagues compared rates of polyneuropathies in healthy people and people with diabetes or prediabetes.

They found that diabetic polyneuropathies were not more common in people with prediabetes than in healthy people.

"It is highly unlikely that impaired glucose or associated metabolic derangements cause polyneuropathy, at least no to the high frequency previously reported," says Dr. Dyck.

Diabetic polyneuropathies can affect all parts of the body, but they generally damage the nerves in the feet and legs. This nerve damage can lead to a variety of problems affecting the senses and motor function.

The results of this study suggests that prediabetes does not directly cause higher rates of diabetic neuropathies, even though the condition precedes type 2 diabetes - a disease that does lead to neuropathies.

According to the study's authors, doctors and scientists should look for factors other than prediabetes that explain why prediabetics have diabetic neuropathies.

They also say it is necessary to prevent type 2 diabetes; however, doctors should not treat prediabetes as if it were diabetes, as overtreatment can lead to complications, including the possibility of nerve damage.

For their study, the researchers looked at 542 older patients. Of these patients, 208 had new cases of type 2 diabetes, 174 had prediabetes, and the remaining 150 were otherwise healthy people. The researchers followed participants for five years.

The results are published in the journal Diabetes Care.

Last Updated:
April 25, 2012