People associate diabetes with the body having difficulties producing or using insulin, thus failing to control blood sugar levels. The assertion is true because insulin inefficiency in the body causes the chronic condition. Diabetes develops slowly and causes significant hidden damage to the patient’s body. However, society tends to take the illness lightly since it only has a few symptoms. Healthcare experts conducted research that shows that diabetes affects all body systems and causes substantial damage if uncontrolled. Below are the 6 unexpected side effects of diabetes.
Heart Diseases and stroke
Diabetics are prone to illnesses affecting blood vessels and the heart. Experts in the healthcare sector argue that diabetics are two twice likely to have heart diseases and stroke. The failure of the body to efficiently use insulin reduces good cholesterol while increasing triglycerides (harmful blood fats). Insulin resistance hardens and narrows blood vessels, resulting in increased blood pressure. The issue of blood pressure is high prevalence among people with diabetes. As a result, 2 in 3 diabetics develop hypertension, a risk factor for other health issues like heart diseases and stroke. Failure to control the increased levels of bad cholesterol accelerates other complications. Diabetics should adopt lifestyle changes such as engaging in physical activities and eating healthy diets to control cholesterol levels.
Unfortunately, diabetics are unlikely to know the risk of this side effect of diabetes until the complications strike. Research shows that most diabetes patients die due to associated complications such as heart failure and stroke. However, the hardened and narrowed blood vessels lead to skin color change, cramps, and poor sensation. Healthcare studies focusing on diabetes show that diabetics can avoid heart diseases and stroke by controlling the illness. A healthy diet and exercise are the most effective strategies to prevent heart diseases and stroke or prevent them from worsening.
Vision and hearing loss
Another unexpected side effect of diabetes is that patients might lose their vision and hearing capabilities. Diabetic patients above 40 years are more prone to blindness since in every 3 patients, 1 experiences vision loss. High blood sugar levels damage the delicate blood vessels in the eyes. The damage to the blood vessels is a progressive procedure that can take up to 7 years before showing any symptoms. The diabetes-related eye problems include cataracts, glaucoma, and retinopathy. Studies show that it is possible to prevent diabetes-related blindness if patients go for eye check-ups regularly. Early treatment of diabetes-related eye problems minimizes the risk of blindness by 95%.
It is common for people to lose their hearing capabilities as they age. Hearing loss is an issue of concern among diabetics since its prevalence is twice that caused by an aging factor. CDC explains that diabetes causes hearing loss because it destroys the nerves and blood vessels within the ear. Doctors explain that the only way diabetics can prevent hearing loss is by controlling their blood sugar levels.CDC recommends that diabetics consider having their ears checked annually to minimize the risk of hearing loss. Another suggestion is to ensure that diabetes patients avoid other events causing hearing loss. Examples of such factors include the disclosureof loud noises.
Another side effect of diabetes is that it damages the nerves, also known as neuropathy. The prevalence of the complication is high, given that 70% of diabetics endure damaged nerves. During the initial stages, diabetics experience numb or mild tingling on the feet and hands. As the complication progresses, the diabetic patient experiences pain, weakness, and challenges in the digestive system. Diabetics have digestion issues because the illness significantly damages nerves in the gastrointestinal tract.
Health experts categorize neuropathy into peripheral diabetic, autonomic, and diabetic amyotrophic. Diabetes patients with peripheral diabetes feel pain in their feet, sometimes losing their sensitivity. The symptoms begin in the toes and progressively spread to other body parts. Autonomic neuropathy affects the nerves controlling internal organs. Diabetics that suffer from this complication endure digestive issues and sexual problems. Men experience erectile dysfunction due to reduced testosterone levels. Women experience impaired lubrication and the inability to achieve orgasm due to nerve damage. Other challenges associated with autonomic neuropathy include dizziness, fainting, and failing to know the bladder is full. Diabeticamyotrophicis a rare complication that causes severe pain in the hips and thighs.
Diabetics manage nerve damage by controlling their sugar levels. Health experts recommend an active lifestyle and a healthy diet as suitable solutions. If the pain becomes too severe, doctors prescribe anticonvulsants to calm down the nerve pain.
Diabetes patients have an increased risk of suffering from gum diseases. Periodontaldisease is the most common infection affecting the gum and bones. Patients suffering from periodontal disease have difficulty chewing food and also experience tooth loss. Doctors argue that gum diseases are due to the modification of collagen in body tissues due to increased blood glucose. In addition, diabetics become more susceptible to infections of different nature.
Gum inflammation and growth of deep abscessesare life-threatening for diabetics since it makes it challenging to control the condition. Gum diseases increase blood sugar levels, which complicates the management process. Some of the signs and symptoms that diabetics should monitor include redness, swelling, and easy bleeding. Health experts recommend that diabetics should observe teeth hygiene to avoid complications. For instance, diabetics should brush their teeth daily using a mild antiseptic mouthwash. Such practices will help to eliminate any persistent plaque. Diabetics should also visit their dentist regularly to avoid gum diseases.
Diabetics are an easy target for skin diseases ranging from bacterial, fungal, and UTI infections. For example, boils, a bacterial infection, are prevalent among individuals living with diabetes. They also tend to experience itching due to inadequate blood circulation, dry skin, and yeast infection. Doctors argue that fungal diseases, especially yeast infections, are common among diabetics. Recurring yeast infection is sometimes the first sign and symptom that a person not diagnosed shows.
Diabetics are prone to many types of bacterial infections. These include boils, sties, folliculitis, carbuncles, and infections in nails. Affected areas tend to swell, red, hot, and painful. Bacterial infections were life-threatening among diabetics in the past since they caused death. Doctors prescribe antibiotics and recommend better measures to control blood sugar levels. Health experts argue that bacterial infections are more prevalent among diabetics than other people.
Fungal infections are also common among diabetes patients. Candida Albicans is the organism responsible for fungal infections among diabetics. Fungal infections include ringworms, vaginal infections, athlete’s foot, and jock itch. The fungus makes itchy rashes on moist areas or a red area characterized by small blisters. Fungal infections occur in skin fold areas with some warmth and moisture. These areas include the nails, armpits, between fingers, under breasts, mouth corners, and below the foreskin for uncircumcised men. Diabetic patients should consult their doctors for specialized treatment when they develop fungal infections.
Diabetic dermopathy is another diabetes-related skin condition. The condition is a result of the changes diabetes makes to blood vessels. It appears as brown scaly patches, which can be circular or oval. The patches develop on the front of the legs and can be mistaken for aging spots. Diabetic dermopathy does not hurt and does not need any form of treatment.
Diabetes patients also suffer allergy reactions to the medications like insulin. The allergy appears on the spot where a diabetic injects insulin as a bump or a rash. Diabetics should consult their doctors once they identify signs of allergic reactions in their bodies.
Obstructive sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is a chronic sleep disorder common among diabetes patients. The disorder has throat muscles irregularly relaxing and blocking the airway during sleep. The irregular relaxation of muscles causes breathing pauses, which increase the level of carbon dioxide in the blood. At least 50% of diabetes patients experience obstructive sleep apnea, making it a common side effect. Obese diabetics are more likely to experience sleep apnea than those with controlled weight.
Sleep apnea makes it challenging to manage diabetes because it develops insulin resistance. The body cannot efficiently use insulin, resulting in increased blood glucose. In addition, sleep apnea elevates chronic blood pressure among diabetics. Doctors associate it with cardiovascular diseases and morning headaches among patients. Sleep apnea increases the complications that a diabetic deals with while managing their condition.
Doctors diagnose sleep apnea using a polysomnogram. The test records the behavior of all body organs during sleep. Activities measured include eye movement, heart rate, brain activity, and breathing patterns. Patients with apnea are given a CPAP mask put over the mouth and nose while one is sleeping. The mask produces constant air pressure, which helps to prevent the throat from closing. Diabetics must manage sleep apnea since it makes it easy to control diabetes. Doctors encourage diabetics to take charge and manage diabetes to avoid related complications. Some recommended measures include eating healthy meals, exercising, refraining from smoking, and losing weight. However, anyone who develops the side effect should seek treatment from their doctor.
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