What Are the Effects of Diabetes on the Body?

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Author Name: Beth Rush
Date: Monday August 17, 2020

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Do you have Type 1 or 2 diabetes? Millions of Americans do, and the disorder puts you at risk for various other health issues. Left unmanaged, this disease can do significant damage to many bodily symptoms. 

What are the effects of diabetes on the body? Remain aware of the following symptoms so that you can take swift action to protect your health. 

Your Pancreas 

Your pancreas manufactures insulin, which regulates your blood glucose levels. In Type 1 diabetes, your body’s immune system attacks the beta cells that produce this hormone, so you need to take it via injection. 

In the Type 2 form of the disease, your body builds up resistance to the hormone, and your pancreas has to produce more to compensate. If caught early, you can often manage this form of the condition through diet and exercise. However, if it progresses to where you begin to lose beta cells, you may need to take supplemental insulin. 

Your Eyes 

When your blood sugar remains elevated for a prolonged period, it can damage your retinas over time. Diabetic retinopathy occurs due to the damage the condition causes to your blood vessels. When sugar blocks the tiny capillaries in your eyes, they leak fluid. Your body grows new ones to repair the damage, but they rupture readily. 

If you have either type of diabetes, you must see your eye doctor for routine exams. Left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can advance to blindness. It also helps to manage your disease by eating healthfully and getting regular exercise. 

Your Heart 

Increased blood sugar can raise your blood pressure. The increased tension puts pressure on arterial walls and can increase your risk of heart disease significantly. The problem compounds if you also have too much LDL, or bad cholesterol, in your blood. Plaque can form on damaged artery walls, causing further issues. 

If you have diabetes, you shouldn’t smoke or consume a diet high in foods containing saturated fat. Both can further damage your cardiovascular system. 

Your Immune System 

Diabetes-related health issues, such as nerve damage and reduced blood flow to the extremities, make you more prone to infection when you have this disorder. If you’re female, you may endure more frequent yeast infections as Candida albicans flourishes in a sugar-rich environment. Your body sends white blood cells to take care of the issue, leaving the rest of your body more open to attack. Then, you find yourself catching every cold that comes down the pike. 

Your Wound-Healing Ability 

Part of the reason that people with diabetes take longer to heal from wounds has to do with the weakened immune response. Without as many free immune cells to fight disease, the body has fewer to send to the area to spur healing. 

Additionally, high blood sugar prevents nutrients and oxygen from energizing cells and increases inflammation. These conditions slow the rate of wound healing because the injured area lacks the materials it needs to rebuild. 

Your Kidneys

The damage that diabetes does to your blood vessels doesn’t stop at your eyes and heart. It can also damage the arteries that feed your kidneys, which can lead to severe trouble. If your blood pressure also increases your risk of problem skyrockets, but you might not know this unless you see your doctor for a checkup. If you leave kidney disease unchecked, you could go into failure and require dialysis or a transplant. 

Your Nervous System  

Diabetic neuropathy is a fancy term for nerve damage the disease causes. Three types exist — sensory, motor, and autonomic. If this condition occurs, you can lose feeling and sensation. You could require amputation if this happens in your feet, and you leave it unchecked. If neuropathy affects the fibers that control internal organs, it can alter their function. 

Your Mobility 

People with diabetes sometimes have a more challenging time getting from place to place. Neuropathy can impair muscle function, making working ou an uphill battle. Fortunately, research indicates that you can perform exercises to improve muscular contraction velocities, such as resistance training or Tai Chi. 

Your Mental Health 

Any chronic illness can impact your mental health. You might worry about how your disease will progress. Ironically, the added stress floods your body with the hormone cortisol, which can cause further health complications. Plus, if you don’t have access to affordable health coverage, paying for the medications you need can rapidly lead to financial distress. 

Know the Possible Effects of Diabetes on Your Body to Stay Safe 

If you have Type 1 or 2 forms of the condition, you should know how diabetes can impact nearly every system of your body. Fortunately, by taking measures to manage your disease, you can prevent many of the adverse effects. 

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