How Diabetes Can Take a Toll on Your Body

No one wants to hear they have diabetes. But it’s a hard reality that 1.5 million Americans face every year. 

Diabetes occurs when your blood sugar is too high. Many people first diagnosed with diabetes don’t have any side effects and might not feel any different. But over time, diabetes does damage to your body, resulting in poor health outcomes like nerve damage and even death.  

The Painless Center, with two locations in New Jersey, is here to explain some of the ways diabetes can take a toll on your body. 

Poor vision

Have you noticed your vision is blurred from diabetes? If so, you might be tempted to get a new pair of glasses to try to correct the problem. However, your blurred vision might be caused by temporary swelling because of high blood sugar. 

Try improving your blood sugar levels before you run to buy new glasses. Aim to get your blood sugar level within 70-130 milligrams per deciliter. Notify your eye doctor and be patient — it could take as long as three months for you to regain clear vision.

Diabetic retinopathy is a more severe consequence of diabetes. This condition is directly related to high blood sugar and causes damage to your small blood vessels in your eyes. If you don’t treat it early, you could go blind. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults who are between 20-74 years old.

Cardiovascular issues

Autonomic neuropathy is a condition linked to diabetes that happens when damage is done to your nerves and organs. The damage can affect the nerves of your heart, causing an increase in your blood pressure and heart rate.

Having high blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease. Autonomic neuropathy can also make a heart attack harder to detect. 

People with diabetes are more likely to have heart failure. Although a serious condition, heart failure doesn’t mean your heart has stopped — it means that your heart isn’t pumping enough blood and oxygen. Heart failure is not curable, but various treatments can help improve your quality of life.

Sexual dysfunction

Sex is an important part of a healthy relationship. If you’re like most, you might have noticed a decline in your sex life since you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes.

This may be explained by a hindered blood flow, affecting many areas of your body, but specifically sexual organs. It also causes changes in your hormone levels, which are directly linked to the libido. In addition, having high glucose can cause nerve damage, which may affect the clitoris or penis — both containing many nerves.

Men with diabetes may experience erectile dysfunction, the inability to achieve or maintain an erection. Similarly, women may experience vaginal dryness and may experience pain during intercourse. Neither sex may get aroused like they once did, and sex may no longer have an appeal.

Foot problems

People with diabetes can develop a variety of foot problems. Diabetic neuropathy can develop and may cause a “pins and needles” sensation at first. Over time, this condition may worsen and eventually cause you to lose feeling in your feet. You might not detect pebbles or rough particles under your feet, which can result in injury. 

Diabetes impairs blood flow to your feet, making cuts and infections harder to heal in your legs. An infection that never heals may lead to gangrene. 

People who develop gangrene or a foot ulcer that doesn’t heal may have to undergo amputation to prevent an infection from growing to the rest of their body. That’s why it’s incredibly important to practice good foot care if you have diabetes.

The bottom line

Although diabetes is not curable, you can improve your health and manage your symptoms in many ways. Are you experiencing one of these issues or another diabetes-related problem?

Jason Chiu, MD is an expert in treating patients with diabetes who are experiencing nerve-related problems. Contact us today to improve your health and wellbeing.

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