Background: Diabetic sensory neuropathy has rarely been studied in the Asian populations. This study investigated the prevalence and risk factors of sensory symptoms (SS) in the Taiwanese diabetes patients. Methods: A total of 1,400 diabetes patients received a health examination together with a structured questionnaire interview for three categories of abnormal sensation of numbness or tingling pain, electric shock, and skin thickness sensation on seven anatomical sites on upper limbs and six sites on lower limbs. Prevalence of SS was defined using nine different criteria, with the least stringent criterion of “any positive symptom on at least 1 site” and the most stringent criterion of “any positive symptom on at least bilateral and symmetrical 2 sites involving the lower limb.” Logistic regression was used to estimate the odds ratios and their 95% confidence interval for SS by the different definitions. Fasting plasma glucose and hemoglobin A1c were entered in separate models to avoid hypercollinearity. Results: The prevalence of SS was 14.4 and 54.0% when using the most stringent and least stringent criterion, respectively. Women consistently had a significantly higher prevalence than men did. Among the three categories of symptoms, numbness or tingling pain was the most common, and fingers and toes were the most commonly involved anatomical sites. For any symptoms, 37.1% of the patients had any symptoms on the upper limbs and 41.7% had any symptoms on the lower limbs. Female sex, diabetes duration, hemoglobin A1c, and hypertension were associated with SS in all models. Conclusions: Taiwanese diabetes patients may have a high prevalence of SS if a structured questionnaire is used for screening. Female sex, diabetes duration, hemoglobin A1c, and hypertension are associated with SS.
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