Diabetes: How It Affects Your Entire Body

Diabetes can affect any part of your body. The good news is that you can prevent most of these problems by keeping your blood glucose (blood sugar) under control, eating healthy, being physically active, working with your health care provider to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control, and getting necessary screening tests.

Your mouth: People with diabetes are more likely to have problems with their teeth and gums. Like all infections, dental infections can make your blood glucose go up.

Your mind: Several studies suggest that diabetes doubles the risk of depression. The risk of depression increases as more diabetes complications develop. Depression can make it hard to function physically or mentally. This makes you less likely to eat properly, exercise, and take your medication regularly.

Your eyes: Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a common complication of diabetes. It is the leading cause of blindness in American adults. Early diagnosis and timely treatment reduce the risk of vision loss.

Your heart: Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of early death among people with diabetes. Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely than people without diabetes to die of heart disease or experience a stroke. Also, about 70% of people with diabetes have high blood pressure, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Your nerves: Diabetic neuropathies are a family of nerve disorders caused by diabetes. People with diabetes can, over time, develop nerve damage throughout the body.

 Your kidneys: Diabetes affects the kidneys’ ability to filter out waste. Diabetic kidney disease happens slowly and silently, so you might not feel anything is wrong until severe problems develop.

Your stomach: Gastroparesis (delayed gastric emptying) is a disorder where, due to nerve damage, the stomach takes too long to empty itself.

Your sex life: Many men and women with diabetic nerve damage have trouble having sex. They also can get urinary tract infections and bladder problems more often than average.

Your immune system: Diabetes can make you more vulnerable to severe flu. People with diabetes who come down with the flu may become very sick and may even have to go to a hospital.

Your feet: Nerve damage, circulation problems, and infections can cause serious foot problems for people with diabetes.

November is American Diabetes Month. If you are concerned about diabetes, talk to your health care provider.

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