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The Effects Of Diabetes On Your Body

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See Your Diabetes Educator

How Diabetes Affects The Body

Work with a diabetes care and education specialist for help avoiding health complications such as heart disease. Youll get support and solutions and hear about the latest advances in managing diabetes. Find out more about how diabetes education can help you take the best care of yourself. And be sure to ask your doctor for a referral if you dont already have a diabetes educator.

The Bodys Reaction To Diabetes

Your body feels different when you have diabetes. It shows signs and symptoms that include thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, vision disturbances, slow healing of wounds, and even yeast infections. Recognizing these symptoms early can aid in the prevention of long-term side-effects commonly referred to as diabetic complications. The most significant reaction that your body shows to this illness involves your glucose levels and insulin. When you have diabetes, your pancreas makes insulin either too little or none at all. In the former case, the insulin produced is not sufficient to be used effectively for cells to transform glucose into energy. And as a result, alternate hormones are used to turn fat into energy which may lead to a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis. When left untreated, this condition can lead to even death.

With type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance is a common occurrence where your body loses its insulin sensitivity, resulting in an increased amount of glucose in your blood system. Fatty deposits in blood vessels raise your risk of developing high blood pressure, which doubles your chances of getting atherosclerosis, a condition that makes your blood vessels exceptionally hard. This prevents smooth blood flow and can gradually result in pain in your hands and feet while walking referred to as intermittent claudication.

When Should I Call My Doctor

If you havent been diagnosed with diabetes, you should see your healthcare provider if you have any symptoms of diabetes. If you already have been diagnosed with diabetes, you should contact your provider if your blood glucose levels are outside of your target range, if current symptoms worsen or if you develop any new symptoms.

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Can You Be Born With Diabetes Is It Genetic

You arent born with diabetes, but Type 1 diabetes usually appears in childhood. Prediabetes and diabetes develop slowly over time years. Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy.Scientists do believe that genetics may play a role or contribute to the development of Type 1 diabetes. Something in the environment or a virus may trigger its development. If you have a family history of Type 1 diabetes, you are at higher risk of developing Type 1 diabetes. If you have a family history of prediabetes, Type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes, youre at increased risk of developing prediabetes, Type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes.

Effects Of Diabetes On Different Parts Of Your Body

Effects of Diabetes

In the United States alone, more than 29 million people have diabetes, but physicians suspect there are millions more undiagnosed.

With so many people affected by the disease, its important to understand its not just a sugar problem. Diabetes can become systemic, having serious effects on different parts of your body.

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Type 2 Diabetes Complications

With type 2 diabetes , if you dont work hard to keep your blood glucose level under control, there are short- and long-term complications to contend with. However, by watching the amount and types of food you eat , exercising, and taking any necessary medications, you may be able to prevent these complications.

And even if you have some of the long-term, more serious complications discussed below when youre first diagnosed, getting tight control of your blood glucose will help prevent the complications from becoming worse.

Short-term complications of type 2 diabetes are hypoglycemia and hyperosmolar hyperglycemic nonketotic syndrome , which is very high blood glucose.

What Does It Mean If Test Results Show I Have Protein In My Urine

This means your kidneys are allowing protein to be filtered through and now appear in your urine. This condition is called proteinuria. The continued presence of protein in your urine is a sign of kidney damage.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Theres much you can do to prevent the development of diabetes . However, if you or your child or adolescent develop symptoms of diabetes, see your healthcare provider. The earlier diabetes is diagnosed, the sooner steps can be taken to treat and control it. The better you are able to control your blood sugar level, the more likely you are to live a long, healthy life.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/28/2021.


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Can Complications Be Reversed

Prevention is essential, as the damage from diabetes may not be reversed and complications may be permanent or fatal. However, there is limited research on if the body can heal and reverse the damage.

In 2015, researchers in Japan took a kidney biopsy from a kidney transplant between a patient with diabetes and one without, and it showed some degree of healing. The result from a 2011 study found that a patient who received a pancreas transplant showed healing in the pancreas, although the healing wasnt immediate and didnt take place until 10 years later.

However, cases of reversed diabetic complications, besides in kidney or pancreas transplants, have only been recorded informally.

Whats The Difference Between Untreated Type 1 Diabetes And Untreated Type 2 Diabetes

The Ravaging Effects of Diabetes on Your Body

Type 1 diabetes is when your pancreas doesnt produce any insulin at all. If left untreated, it can cause atherosclerosis , heart disease, stroke, and eye and kidney diseases.

On the other hand, type 2 diabetes occurs when your pancreas doesnt produce enough insulin or your body cannot use insulin effectively. Uncontrolled type 2 diabetes can lead to vision loss, kidney failure, and lower limb amputation.

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Heart And Blood Vessels

Heart disease and blood vessel disease are common problems for many people who donât have their diabetes under control. You’re at least twice as likely to have heart problems and strokes as people who donât have the condition.

Blood vessel damage or nerve damage may also cause foot problems that, in rare cases, can lead to amputations. People with diabetes are ten times likelier to have their toes and feet removed than those without the disease.

Symptoms: You might not notice warning signs until you have a heart attack or stroke. Problems with large blood vessels in your legs can cause leg cramps, changes in skin color, and less sensation.

The good news: Many studies show that controlling your diabetes through medication, diet and exercise can help you avoid these problems, or stop them from getting worse if you have them.

Questions To Ask Your Doctor

  • How did I get diabetes?
  • If I have diabetes, will my children develop it, too?
  • Will I need to take insulin?
  • If I dont have a family history of diabetes, can I still get it?
  • Can your diabetes get worse even if you do everything right?
  • Can I prevent gestational diabetes?
  • If I had gestational diabetes while pregnant, will I get type 2 diabetes later?
  • Will the babies of a mom with gestational diabetes develop diabetes?
  • How can I tell the difference between Charcot foot and gout in my foot?

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Does Eating Sugary Foods Cause Diabetes

Sugar itself doesn’t directly cause diabetes. Eating foods high in sugar content can lead to weight gain, which is a risk factor for developing diabetes. Eating more sugar than recommended American Heart Association recommends no more than six teaspoons a day for women and nine teaspoons for men leads to all kinds of health harms in addition to weight gain.

These health harms are all risk factors for the development of diabetes or can worsen complications. Weight gain can:

  • Raise blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • Increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Cause fat buildup in your liver.
  • Cause tooth decay.

Types Of Nerve Damage

How the Blood Sugar of Diabetes Affects the Body

There are four main types of nerve damage. You can have more than one type. Symptoms depend on the type of nerve damage you have and which nerves are affected.

Peripheral nerve damage

Have you felt pins and needles or tingling in your feet? Maybe you feel like youre wearing socks or gloves when you arent. Your feet may be very sensitive to toucheven a bed sheet can hurt. These are all symptoms of peripheral nerve damage.

Peripheral nerve damage affects your hands, feet, legs, and arms, and its the most common type of nerve damage for people with diabetes. It generally starts in the feet, usually in both feet at once.

Other symptoms may include:

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Oral Health And Diabetes

People with poorly managed diabetes are at increased risk of tooth decay and gum infections. This is because the small blood vessels that help nourish your teeth and gums can become damaged. Poor oral care can cause the gums to become inflamed and loosen around your teeth. It’s also strongly linked with an increased risk of heart disease.To reduce your risk of teeth and gum problems:

  • See your dentist regularly for a check-up.
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss once a day.
  • If you have dentures, make sure you brush your dentures and gums with a soft toothbrush.

How Does Diabetes Lead To Amputation

Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to poor blood flow . Without oxygen and nutrients , you are more prone to the development of cuts and sores that can lead to infections that cant fully heal. Areas of your body that are farthest away from your heart are more likely to experience the effects of poor blood flow. So areas of your body like your toes, feet, legs and fingers are more likely to be amputated if infection develops and healing is poor.

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Why Is Alzheimers Disease Called Type 3 Diabetes

Type 3 diabetes is a term that has been proposed to describe the connection between Alzheimers and diabetes. A variant of a gene, APOE4, that has been associated with Alzheimers disease seems to interfere with brain cells ability to use insulin, which may eventually cause the cells to starve and die.

Endocrine Excretory And Digestive Systems

How Diabetes Affects Your Body

If your pancreas produces little or no insulin or if your body cant use it other hormones are used to turn fat into energy. This can create high levels of toxic chemicals, including acids and ketone bodies, which may lead to a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis.

Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious complication of the disease. Symptoms include:

Your breath may have a sweet scent thats caused by the elevated levels of ketones in the blood. High blood sugar levels and excess ketones in your urine can confirm diabetic ketoacidosis. If untreated, this condition can lead to loss of consciousness or even death.

Diabetic hyperglycemic hyperosmolar syndrome occurs in type 2 diabetes. It involves very high blood glucose levels but no ketones.

You might become dehydrated with this condition. You may even lose consciousness. HHS is most common in people whose diabetes is undiagnosed, or who havent been able to manage their diabetes well. It can also be caused by a heart attack, stroke, or infection.

High blood glucose levels may cause gastroparesis. This is when its hard for your stomach to completely empty. This delay can cause blood glucose levels to rise. As a result, you may also experience:

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Diabetes And Your Heart

You can lower your risk for heart disease with lifestyle changes.

Diabetes and heart disease often go hand in hand. Learn how to protect your heart with simple lifestyle changes that can also help you manage diabetes.

Heart disease is very common and serious. Its the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. If you have diabetes, youre twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke than someone who doesnt have diabetesand at a younger age. The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to have heart disease.

But the good news is that you can lower your risk for heart disease and improve your heart health by changing certain lifestyle habits. Those changes will help you manage diabetes better too.

Avoiding High Blood Sugar And Dka

No matter how well they take care of themselves, people with diabetes will sometimes have high blood sugar levels. But the best way to avoid problems is to keep your blood sugar levels as close to your desired range as possible, which means following your diabetes management plan. Checking your blood sugar levels several times a day will let you know when your blood sugar level is high. Then you can treat it and help prevent DKA from happening.

High blood sugar levels don’t always cause symptoms, and a person who isn’t testing regularly might be having blood sugar levels high enough to damage the body without even realizing it. Doctors may use the HbA1c test to find out if someone has been having high blood sugar levels over time, even if the person has not had obvious symptoms.

Here are some other tips for avoiding high blood sugar levels and preventing DKA:

  • Try to eat all your meals and snacks on time and not skip any.
  • Take the right amount of insulin.
  • Check your blood sugar levels regularly and your ketone levels when your diabetes management plan recommends it.
  • Stick to your diabetes management plan.

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Hearing Smell And Taste

Your vision isnt the only sense thats at risk. Diabetes doubles your chances for hearing loss. Prediabetes ups your chances by 30%. Experts arent sure why. The reason could be nerve damage, but more research is needed to know for sure.

You may lose your hearing slowly so that you arent even aware. If you ask people to repeat themselves a lot, get your hearing checked.

Diabetes even affects the nerves that handle these senses. If you take insulin, you may be more likely to have trouble noticing scents. This may make food taste off. You may even catch a whiff of something thats not there.

Experts suspect it could stem from nerve damage or a glitch that starts in the brain. It may be an early sign of trouble with thinking skills. People who have Alzheimers disease or dementia often report problems with their sense of smell before their diagnosis.

A System Of Integumentary

The Effects of Diabetes on Your Body

Diabetes can affect the skin which is the largest organ in your body.In addition to dehydration, your bodys inability to retain water due to the high blood sugar levels can cause the surface of your feet to be dry out and crack.Its essential to completely dry your feet following bathing or swimming.You can apply petroleum jelly or soft creams and avoid letting these areas get too moist.

The moist, warm folds of the skin are prone to fungal and bacterial, and yeast-related infections.They tend to form between toes and fingers and the armpits, groin or around those corners around the mouth.The symptoms include blistering, redness, and itching.

The high-pressure areas under your feet can cause calluses.They could become infected, or cause ulcers.If you develop an ulcer, consult your physician immediately to decrease the possible loss of your foot.There is a chance that you could be more susceptible to boils, hair folliculitis as well as sties and nail infections.

Uncontrolled diabetes can cause three skin issues:

  • Eruptive xanthomatosis that causes hard yellowRed ring around the bumps
  • Digital sclerosis, which can cause the skin to become thicker, and is the most common cause.often on feet or hands
  • dermopathy diabetic, which may cause brownpatches of skin

For diabetic dermopathy, theres not a reason to be concerned and theres no need for treatment.

The skin problems typically improve once you have your blood sugar level under control.

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Effects Of Diabetes On Your Body

When you hear the word diabetes, your first thought is likely about high blood sugar.

Blood sugar is an often-underestimated component of your health. When its out of balance over a long period of time, it could develop into diabetes.

Diabetes affects your bodys ability to produce or use insulin, a hormone that allows your body to turn glucose into energy.

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Here are what symptoms may occur to your body when diabetes develops.

Diabetes can be effectively managed when diagnosed early. However, when left untreated, it can lead to potential complications that include:

  • heart disease
  • kidney damage
  • nerve damage

Normally after you eat or drink, your body will break down sugars from your food and use them for energy in your cells.

To accomplish this, your pancreas needs to produce a hormone called insulin. Insulin is what facilitates the process of pulling sugar from the blood and putting it in the cells for use, or energy.

If you have diabetes, your pancreas either produces too little insulin or none at all. The insulin cant be used effectively.

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This allows blood glucose levels to rise while the rest of your cells are deprived of much-needed energy. This can lead to a wide variety of problems affecting nearly every major body system.

Diabetes And Healthy Eating

If you have diabetes its important to include a wide variety of nutritious and healthy foods in your diet, and to avoid snacking on sugary foods.

Enjoy a variety of foods from each food group be sure to include foods high in fibre and low in fat and reduce your salt intake. Its helpful to consult with a dietitian to review your current eating plan and provide a guide about food choices and food quantities.

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