How Diabetes Affects Your Body: #Allin4health #health4all #minding your wellbeing #diabetesawareness

By Dr TW Ngwenya-Changamire


We continue to talk about Diabetes and today we will be talking about the consequences of Diabetes on our health, in essence we will be explaining the impact of having high blood sugar levels in circulation.

Diabetes can affect different parts of the body negatively and it can make you susceptible to certain infections and diseases.

High blood sugar levels cause reduced blood circulation to vital organs, reduced blood flow to these organs will lead to slow destruction of these vital organs. Diabetes can affect the eyes, kidneys, nerves and even the skin.

If Diabetes is left uncontrolled or untreated it can also lead to life-threatening conditions.

Diabetes and the eyes

Diabetics may develop a condition called retinopathy. This condition is caused by damage of the small blood vessels that supply the retina. The high circulating blood sugar destroys these small blood vessels that supply the retina. The retina is in the back of the eye and it is responsible for sensing light, “our vision centre.” If retinopathy progresses it may lead to permanent loss of vision.

Diabetes also increases the risk of developing cataracts, a condition that results in the clouding of the lens of your eye. This will result in blurry or hazy vision.

This often requires surgery to remove the cloudy lens and replacement with an artificial lens. Diabetes can also increase the risk of developing glaucoma.

The causes of Glaucoma vary and Diabetes is one of them. Glaucoma is a condition where the pressure in your eye is raised.

If high pressures in the eye persist this may lead to permanent vision loss as well. These are the reasons why Diabetics require frequent eye screening by the eye specialist to detect these problems early on and to preserve the patients eyesight.

Diabetes and the kidneys

In the kidneys as well high blood sugar will cause damage to the small blood vessels supplying the kidneys. This results in reduced blood flow to the kidney which then leads to reduced function of the kidney.

Remember the function of the kidney is to remove toxins from the body and regulate the amount of water in our bodies. If the kidney is functioning poorly you will end up having build-up of toxins and your body holds up a lot more water and you end swelling.

The swelling may start in the legs and progress up to your face. Do not ignore swelling of the feet. It may be a sign of underlying kidney disease.

Reduced blood flow will ultimately lead to a change in the normal structure of the kidneys. This restructuring in the kidneys may lead to the development of high blood pressure as well.

You will find that with time if glycaemic control is not achieved Diabetics develop Hypertension. A basic inexpensive test used to screen for kidney function in the medical rooms is urinalysis and this is why Diabetics will always have their urine checked when they visit their Doctor.

Diabetes and the nerves

Reduced blood flow to the nerves will lead to damage of the nerves. This condition is called neuropathy. If blood sugar levels are controlled development of neuropathy may be delayed or prevented.

Neuropathy is often a late presenting complication of diabetes which manifests as a tingling sensation in feet and hands. It will also present as numbness, loss of sensation, pain or even weakness.

Loss of sensation in the feet makes Diabetics prone to injuries and they might also miss these injuries and develop an infection which may also complicate further and lead to limb amputation.

It is for this reason Diabetics need frequent foot checks. Sexual dysfunction in men may be attributed to reduced blood flow to the arteries caused by Diabetes but it can also be caused by damage of the nerves that are required to achieve an erection.

It is therefore advised for men with sexual dysfunction to also get screened for diabetes. The nerves in the digestive system may also get affected and this will result in non-specific digestive system abnormalities like nausea, vomiting, constipation or even diarrhoea

Diabetes and the skin

Skin conditions present early in Diabetics. These may actually be one of the most common reasons people present to the doctor. The skin is prone to infection.

High blood glucose levels are ideal for the growth of microbes. Commonly the skin is prone to fungal infection and bacterial infections. Fungal infections manifest as oral thrush and in women, they will also have recurrent vaginal thrush infections.

Mental health and Diabetes

You may be wondering if this is even possible. Yes, Diabetics are disproportionately at a higher risk of developing a mental disorder. Diabetes not only has physical effects but it may also have mental effects.

The mental health impact of Diabetes is often a neglected or missed topic of discussion by health practitioners.

Patients may also find it hard to recognise a mental illness or may fear raising the topic to the treating clinician. While the need to eat healthy, exercise, and constantly check on the blood sugar levels will improve your physical health and mental health the opposite may occur and it may actually lead to anxiety, worrying a lot or even Depression.

If a mental disorder develops, this may now actually lead to inactivity, poor eating habits or poor food choices and poor monitoring which will all impact negatively on physical health.

Mental health screening is advised in Diabetics to assist in achieving glycaemic control.

So the message is get yourself screened for Diabetes. If you are a diabetic strive for glucose control by taking your medication as advised by your doctor and by also making the required lifestyle changes that will enable you to reach the glucose targets.

If you are pre-diabetic or have had Diabetes in your pregnancy remember that lifestyle changes as well may prevent progression to Diabetes.

Contact All In 4 Health for General Medical Consultation, health screening, medical check-up, health education and promotion. The Glen Marais Shopping Centre, 57 Veld Street, Glen Marais, Kempton park 1619




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