What if I told you there were certain things you are (or aren’t) doing almost everyday that are making your neuropathy worse? It might surprise you, but chances are that statement is true for a large number of people with neuropathy. While some things are obvious, there are many hidden threats to your nerves. Nerve damage can spread faster and symptoms can become more intense if these things are left unaddressed.
I’ve made a list of 10 of the most common things people do (or fail to do) that can make their neuropathy worse. Check out the infographic to see what they are then read below for a more in depth analysis of each one!
Are you getting enough of the right vitamins and nutrients to keep your nerves healthy? There’s a chance you may not be. One of the most important vitamins for your nerves is vitamin B12. Unfortunately, it is notoriously poor at absorbing into your system – so even if you eat a diet rich in B12, you may still be deficient.
MORE: 40% of People Aren’t Getting Enough of This Nerve Boosting Vitamin – Are You?
B12 helps support and maintain a healthy nervous system, including building up and repairing the myelin sheath (a protective coating around your nerves). If you go to long without getting enough B12, your nerves are at a higher risk of being damaged and developing neuropathy.
Other important vitamins and nutrients for your nerves include Vitamin D, Magnesium, b-complex vitamins, zinc and Omega-3 fatty acids.
Another big threat to your nerves can be your diet. Certain foods can heighten your sensitivity to pain and also deprive your nerves on the vitamins and nutrients they need to stay healthy. Avoid foods with high amounts of sugar, artificial sweeteners (i.e. MSG), caffeine, casein-based products (i.e. certain dairy products), gluten and refined grains.
Not controlling blood sugar
Did you know the number one way to stop and even reverse diabetic neuropathy is to manage your blood sugar? And even for those whose neuropathy is not related to neuropathy, controlling blood sugar from huge spikes helps protect the nerves from becoming cracked and less pliable.
MORE: Is Sugar Making My Neuropathy Worse?
Believe it or not, some of the medications you take may be hurting your nerves and could lead to neuropathy. Common meds that have been linked to neuropathy include cholesterol lowering statin drugs, diabetes drugs (metformin) and some antibiotics. For a full list of medicines that have been linked to neuropathy, click the link below:
Sitting for Too Long
Study after study has shown how detrimental sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day can be. Unfortunately, many of us have to do so for work. Sitting for too long can be especially hard on your nerves, cutting off circulation and starving them off important nutrients and oxygen delivered by the blood. It can also pinch nerves or put constant strain on them, leading to nerve damage.
When possible, try to stand up and stretch every 20 mins or so to get your blood circulating.
Stress is one of those unavoidable things in life – but what you do with it can make a big difference. If left unmanaged, stress releases chemicals that heighten your sensitivity to pain. It also triggers the body to produce more glucose as part of the stress response, increasing your risk of diabetes.
To prevent stress from negatively impacting your health and your nerves, find ways to relieve stress daily. Exercise, mindfulness and meditation are three very effective ways to manage stress.
Drinking too much alcohol hurts the nerves in two ways. First, toxins within alcohol can damage your nerves. Second, alcohol blocks the absorption of important nerve-boosting vitamins and nutrients. While a drink here and there won’t hurt – avoid drinking excessively or daily.
We all know smoking is bad for you – but what you may not have realized is that it can damage your nerves and worsen your neuropathy. Smoking constricts your blood vessels, choking off the supply of fresh oxygen and nutrients to your nerves.
Lack of exercise
While exercise can be difficult with neuropathy, it is important as it helps improve circulation and maintain muscle mass (which can deteriorate as a result of nerve pain). Various studies have shown that simple, low-impact exercises like waking or water aerobics can reduce nerve pain and ease the symptoms of neuropathy significantly.
MORE: 5 Low Impact Exercises for Neuropathy
Not seeking treatment
One of the biggest myths about neuropathy is that there’s nothing you can do to cure it, so you shouldn’t waste your time or money on medicines or treatments to stop it. While most forms of neuropathy may not have a cure, the nerve damage can be prevented from spreading if treated correctly.
So, you can do nothing and risk allowing the damage to spread – resulting in more pain and discomfort. Or you can take steps to slow down and contain the damage, which can prevent you from suffering even more than you already do.
From the food you eat to the medicines you take, there are a number of potential threats to your nerves. Review the infographic above and make note of which changes you can make today to prevent your neuropathy from getting worse.