More than 37 million Americans have diabetes, including nearly 10 million who haven’t been diagnosed yet. Without a proper diabetes management plan, all those people are at increased risks of developing serious — and sometimes deadly — diabetes-related complications.
A leading primary care practice with offices in Warrior, Alabama, and Santa Rosa Beach, Primary & Urgent Care South offers care for people with diabetes, including patient-centered diabetes management plans focused on reducing those risks and improving overall health. In this post, our team reviews three important reasons why managing diabetes is so important for your health and your quality of life.
Vision problems are common among people with diabetes, especially diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, glaucoma, and cataracts. In fact, these problems are so common in diabetes, they’re collectively referred to as diabetic eye disease.
Most vision loss associated with diabetes happens when elevated glucose levels damage the tiny blood vessels that provide your eyes with oxygen and nutrients, while carrying away wastes and fluids. Over time, some blood vessels leak fluids and cause swelling, while other vessels close off, causing new vessels to form. These vessels are inherently weak and prone to bursting and leakage, making vision problems worse.
Elevated glucose levels also increase the risk of developing cataracts and developing them at a much earlier age than someone who does not have diabetes. Elevated eye pressure leads to glaucoma and optic nerve damage, which, in turn, can lead to permanent blindness. In fact, people who live with diabetes are twice as likely to develop glaucoma as those who don’t have diabetes.
Excess blood sugar also takes a big toll on your nerves, particularly the nerves in your extremities. People with diabetes are much more prone to foot problems, including deep ulcers that resist healing.
Ulcers begin as sores or cuts. Even something as simple as an ingrown toenail or a blister can eventually lead to a serious foot ulcer when nerve damage prevents you from noticing an injury right away.
Delayed care means there’s more time for bacteria to invade your foot and cause an infection. Because diabetes also damages your blood vessels, it’s much harder for your body to fight a more serious infection. Eventually, an ulcer develops, significantly increasing your risks of amputation and permanent disability.
Diabetic nerve damage can affect other parts of your body, too, including your organs. For example, nerve damage in and around your heart can alter the way your heart functions, increasing your risks of heart attack and heart disease.
High glucose levels directly damage your blood vessels, interfering with normal, healthy circulation. Vessel damage makes it easier for fatty plaques to build up inside your arteries, leading to a chronic and potentially deadly condition called atherosclerosis, a leading cause of strokes and heart attacks.
When diabetes causes changes in the blood vessels that supply your brain with oxygen and nutrients, it may increase your risk of dementia, as well. In fact, recent studies show marked increases in dementia risk for people with both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Blood vessel damage can also affect your kidneys, making it harder for them to function and filter impurities from your blood. People with diabetes are far more likely to develop kidney damage and even kidney failure, also known as diabetic kidney disease or diabetic nephropathy.
Diabetes is a chronic disease, requiring regular doctor visits and a management plan tailored to your needs. If you have diabetes, we can help you learn important ways to control your glucose levels and reduce your risks of serious diabetes complications.
To learn more, give us a call, or use our online booking tool to schedule an appointment with our primary care team today