Did you know that over 30 million people in the United States are currently diagnosed with diabetes? There is also a large portion of the population that doesn’t know that they have diabetes or prediabetes. As the number rises in our country, spreading awareness about diabetes is vital to the prevention and management of this disease. We would like to take time this month to educate our community on the effect diabetes can have on various aspects of your health and ways to lower your risk for developing diabetic-related conditions.
Did you know that people who have diabetes are at a higher risk of developing periodontitis, or advanced gum disease? Those with diabetes are also more susceptible to tooth decay, gingivitis, thrush, and dry mouth. Research suggests that the link between diabetes and oral health may stem from your blood sugar levels. Patients with uncontrolled diabetes could have higher blood sugar levels, and as such, be at an increased risk of developing these oral health conditions. Fortunately, these conditions and diseases are preventable if you maintain a healthy dental regimen while managing your diabetes.
Diabetes damages blood vessels in all parts of the body, including the feet. Consistently high or low blood sugar levels can cause changes to the skin, nails, and circulation of the body resulting in a decrease or loss of sensation in the extremities such as the arms and feet. The peripheral nerves, or nerves that travel to the extremities, can prevent them from functioning properly. This type of nerve damage is known as peripheral neuropathy which is often permanent and affects over 60% of patients diagnosed with diabetes. Though it begins in the feet, it can spread to the legs, hands, and arms. This condition can affect a person’s ability to feel pain, temperature, or sensations and can hinder muscle control and functionality.
Additionally, diabetic patients have a more difficult time recovering from injuries to the feet and extremities. It is important to routinely check your feet for any changes, and talk to your doctor if you have any wounds that are not healing properly. Your provider can help make specific recommendations for foot and wound care to help you best manage any diabetic-related problems.
People who unknowingly have prediabetes or diabetes may miss early symptoms for certain eye conditions. Some conditions may not show signs until they are too severe to ignore, though common warning signs may include:
- Blurred vision
- Dark spots
- Flashes of light
- Poor night vision
- Seeing floaters
If left untreated or if uncontrolled, diabetes, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure can affect the lenses of your eyes causing them to swell and further impact your vision which can lead to blindness. Uncontrolled diabetes can cause damage to your eyes and lead to blurred vision, cataracts, and glaucoma.
In addition to maintaining healthy habits and routine examinations for your vision, oral health, and feet, there are a few details that might be beneficial for you to consider when scheduling appointments and procedures. Try scheduling your exams in the morning, as this is usually the time of day when blood sugar levels are optimal and the risk of hypoglycemia is reduced. Be mindful of the time of day when you have peak insulin activity. If mornings are not a good time for you, try to schedule your appointments around the parts of your day when you feel the best and when your blood sugar is best under control.
STEPS TO LOWER YOUR RISK
Though diabetes can increase your risk for various health conditions, there are many steps you can take to lower your risk, preserve your health, and prevent or control these conditions. Here are some steps you can take:
- Routine examinations Once or twice a year, it is highly recommended that you visit your respective doctors for a detailed check-up. Diabetic diseases in their early stages usually don’t have any symptoms, but comprehensive exams can help your doctor monitor your condition and detect symptoms early. This is important so that you can begin treatment as soon as possible if signs do appear.
2. Control your blood sugar High blood sugar can affect the shape of your eye’s lens, and can lead to changes to the skin, circulation issues, and various oral health concerns. Routinely check your blood sugar levels and take appropriate measures to manage them as necessary.
- Manage your blood pressure and cholesterol High blood pressure and cholesterol can also put you at risk for various diseases, some to which diabetic patients may be more susceptible. Keep a blood pressure monitor nearby and check your blood pressure every day. Keep your diet healthy so your cholesterol levels remain under control.
- Stop using tobacco If you smoke, your risk for some diabetic-related diseases can significantly increase. Quit smoking and using tobacco products to better your health and reduce your risk.
- Exercise regularly At the end of the day, your physical fitness level affects your health. Exercise can improve your quality of life by helping you manage your weight and overall health which is helpful for a diabetic patient.
Though managing diabetes is a lifelong commitment, diabetes doesn’t have to control your life or overall health. Understanding the risks associated with diabetes-related diseases and knowing how to prevent these conditions is a great step towards keeping your body happy and healthy. For more information on how diabetes can affect your overall health or to schedule an appointment, contact New Medical Center today.