What Diabetes Can Do
High blood sugar can impact different parts of your body:
Eyes. Diabetes raises your odds of having vision problems, including blindness. It can cause:
- Cataracts. The lens of your eye gets cloudy.
- Glaucoma. This can damage the nerve that connects your eye to your brain and keep you from seeing well.
- Retinopathy. This involves changes to the retina in the back of your eyes.
Heart. Years of high blood sugar may harm your bodyâs blood vessels and nerves that take care of your heart. That raises your chance of having heart disease. It can cause heart failure early on and heart attacks or strokes later. High blood pressure and high cholesterol make the problems even more likely.
Kidneys. Diabetes can affect blood vessels in your kidneys, too, so they may not work as well. After many years of trouble, they might stop working.
Feet. High blood sugar can harm blood flow and damage nerves, and that may cause cuts, scrapes, or sores to heal slowly. You may lose some feeling in your feet, which keeps you from noticing injuries that can get infected. If an infection gets serious, it might mean you need to have a foot removed.
Nerves. If high blood sugar damages your nerves, called diabetic neuropathy, you might feel pain, tingling, or numbness, especially in your feet.
Skin. Diabetes may make you more likely to have yeast infections, itching, or brown or scaly patches.
You Notice Tingling And Numbness In Your Hands Or Feet
As mentioned, uncontrolled blood sugar can cause nerve damage, also known as diabetic neuropathy. What you may notice is a tingling sensation or even numbness in your hands and feet. Some people experience pain in their hands and feet as well. Though neuropathy is most common in people who have had diabetes for a long time, it can occur in anyone with poorly controlled diabetes.
What Causes Low Blood Sugar
Low blood sugar has many causes, including missing a meal, taking too much insulin, taking other diabetes medicines, exercising more than normal, and drinking alcohol. Blood sugar below 70 mg/dL is considered low.
Signs of low blood sugar are different for everyone. Common symptoms include:
Know what your individual symptoms are so you can catch low blood sugar early and treat it. If you think you may have low blood sugar, check it even if you dont have symptoms. Low blood sugar can be dangerous and should be treated as soon as possible.
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Tier 1 Medications For Type 2 Diabetes
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Can Diabetes Be Prevented
Type 1 diabetes cant be prevented.
You may be able to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by managing your weight, staying active, and following a healthy diet. However, genetics and other risk factors may increase your risk despite your best efforts.
If you have any risk factors for diabetes, its important to get regular checkups with your doctor or healthcare professional. This will help prevent diabetes from progressing and causing other serious health complications.
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How To Prevent Hyperglycaemia
There are simple ways to reduce your risk of severe or prolonged hyperglycaemia:
- Be careful what you eat be particularly aware of how snacking and eating sugary foods or carbohydrates can affect your blood sugar level.
- Stick to your treatment plan remember to take your insulin or other diabetes medications as recommended by your care team.
- Be as active as possible getting regular exercise can help stop your blood sugar level rising, but you should check with your doctor first if youre taking diabetes medication, as some medicines can lead to hypoglycaemia if you exercise too much.
- Take extra care when youre ill your care team can provide you with some sick day rules that outline what you can do to keep your blood sugar level under control during an illness.
- Monitor your blood sugar level your care team may suggest using a device to check your level at home so you can spot an increase early and take steps to stop it.
Page last reviewed: 08 August 2018 Next review due: 08 August 2021
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Before You Break A Sweat Determine Whether You Need Neuropathy Treatment
If you feel tingling, numbness, loss of sensation, or pain from common clothing like socks or even bedsheets, thats your cue to stop what youre doing and potentially seek treatment for neuropathy. If you find from checking your feet daily that you have a blister or ulcer, be sure to notify your physician to help prevent infections.
Loss of sensation in the foot or ankle can significantly increase the risk of getting infections in those areas from routine cuts or abrasions, Machowsky says. Since you may not feel the extent of the damage done and therefore not take action to treat it until it becomes a major medical emergency.
Meanwhile, if youre standing on the gym floor performing squats, its the nerves in your feet that help you gauge your bodys positioning and maintain balance, he explains. Both are vital to performing your workouts safely and effectively.
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Managing Blood Sugar Levels
must check their blood sugar levels daily with a glucose meter. This device takes a drop of blood, usually from a finger, and displays the sugar level within a few seconds.
People with type 1 diabetes will need to take insulin as their doctor recommends, usually several times a day.
Those with type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes may need to change their diet and exercise habits. They may also need to take oral medications or insulin.
Various strategies hyperglycemia.
- Check their blood sugar levels as their doctor advises and take the correct amount of insulin if they have type 1 diabetes.
- Speak with a doctor or dietitian about which foods to eat or avoid, how much to eat, and how often.
- Take precautions to avoid infections, for example, through regular handwashing, as illness, such as a cold, can trigger an increase in blood sugar levels.
- Plan their food intake and exercise to balance blood sugar levels.
- Minimize stress as far as possible, for example, through exercise, getting enough sleep, and stress-reducing activities such as meditation or yoga.
Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, can occur when a person:
- has certain medical conditions
- does a lot of exercise
- skips meals or eats too little
It can also be a side effect of diabetes medicines. Taking too much insulin can result in low blood sugar levels.
Symptoms of low blood sugar may include:
- feeling weak or shaky
- fast heart rate, or palpitations
- consult doctor regularly
How To Lower Blood Sugar At Home Fast
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Check Your Blood Glucose Levels
For many people with diabetes, checking their blood glucose level each day is an important way to manage their diabetes. Monitoring your blood glucose level is most important if you take insulin. The results of blood glucose monitoring can help you make decisions about food, physical activity, and medicines.
The most common way to check your blood glucose level at home is with a blood glucose meter. You get a drop of blood by pricking the side of your fingertip with a lancet. Then you apply the blood to a test strip. The meter will show you how much glucose is in your blood at the moment.
Ask your health care team how often you should check your blood glucose levels. Make sure to keep a record of your blood glucose self-checks. You can print copies of this glucose self-check chart. Take these records with you when you visit your health care team.
How To Prevent Kaleidoscope Vision
You may be able to prevent kaleidoscope vision, depending on its cause. For example, eating a healthy diet and exercising are key to preventing diseases like diabetes that can cause vision problems.
You may consider medication to prevent migraines if you have two or more migraines in a given month and they cause disabilities for at least three days per month. You may also consider preventative medication if you find yourself taking medicine to treat migraines more than twice per week or if treatments do not seem to work.6
Consult your doctor about your symptoms and whether or not preventative care is right for you. Though millions of Americans suffer from migraines that cause visual symptoms, only three to 13% are on preventative therapy. Meanwhile, an estimated 38% of them need preventive care.2
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Prednisone And Low Blood Pressure
If you are being weaned off of prednisone and are taking medications to help lower your blood pressure, be sure to discuss the effect the changes in prednisone could have on your blood pressure and monitor for the symptoms of low blood pressure.
Symptoms of low blood pressure can include:
- Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
How Does Diabetes Affect Your Feet And Legs
If youre managing diabetes, you may encounter problems with your feet and legs, two common complications of the disease. Diabetes puts you at higher risk for calluses, corns, bunions, blisters, and ulcers and high blood sugar means these minor injuries and alterations may become gateways to potentially disabling infections.
But you can take several steps to help keep your feet in good shape, including wearing specialized footwear, having regular foot exams, and performing low-impact exercise.
Why does this complication occur in the first place? First, know that high blood sugar levels damage nerves. Researchers arent exactly sure how this damage happens, but they think that blood sugar may have a negative effect on the nervous systems cells and enzymes, according to the Joslin Diabetes Center. These damaged nerves may lead to diabetic neuropathy, a condition in which you lose feeling in your feet or your hands.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, neuropathy occurs in about 70 percent of people with diabetes, and its symptoms can result in harmful infections. After all, if you cant feel your feet, you wont be able to notice cuts, sores, or pain. And if you cant feel these irritations and wounds, they may lead to infection, and untreated infections can lead to gangrene, which in turn can require amputation.
Additional reporting by Carlene Bauer
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Could It Be Psoriasis
You may know this condition from these symptoms:
But psoriasis can affect your eyes, too. It can cause a condition called uveitis, when inflammation leads to swelling that causes blurred vision, pain, redness, and sensitivity to light.
Treatments can get rid of uveitis, but the type you need will depend on which part of your eye is affected. Learn more about uveitis.
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Your Fingers And Toes Get Easily Numb
High blood sugar levels can actually change your blood’s consistency, according to Health.com. The excess sugar could cause your blood to be less runny and more of a thick, viscous consistency.
As a result, your extremities might get numb and certain organs may suffer because blood isn’t easily flowing to them.
“You can imagine how hard it can be for thick syrup to get to the tiniest point of small blood vessels places like the eyes, the ears, the nerves, the kidney, the heart,” Joanne Rinker, a certified diabetes educator and registered dietitian in Waynesville, NC, told Health.com.
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What Is Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia occurs when your glucose value drops below 70 mg/dL serious hypoglycemia occurs below 54 mg/dL. Hypoglycemia is usually caused by too much insulin or insulin effect in the body. Here are some reasons why hypoglycemia might occur:
Too much insulin administered for your bodys needs at the time
Too high levels of other diabetes medications
Not enough food, particularly carbohydrates
Too much exercise
Illness, particularly if associated with vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea
Other medical conditions
Hypoglycemia can be quite dangerous, and in extreme cases it can cause you to become confused or even to lose consciousness . Most people with diabetes are able to recognize the signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia as their glucose levels are trending low before severe hypoglycemia occurs. These warning signs are due to the release of other body hormones that alerts you to oncoming hypoglycemia.
There are three levels of hypoglycemia: level 1, glucose values less than 70 mg/dL level 2, glucose levels less than 54 mg/dL and level 3, severe hypoglycemia, which is characterized by altered mental state or the need for someone to help you to treat the extreme low.
How Is It Treated
If you have diabetes and notice any of the early signs of high blood sugar, test your blood sugar and call the doctor. They may ask you for the results of several readings. They could recommend the following changes:
Drink more water. Water helps remove excess sugar from your blood through urine, and it helps you avoid dehydration.
Exercise more. Working out can help lower your blood sugar. But under certain conditions, it can make blood sugar go even higher. Ask your doctor what kind of exercise is right for you.
Caution: If you have type 1 diabetes and your blood sugar is high, you need to check your urine for ketones. When you have ketones, do NOT exercise. If you have type 2 diabetes and your blood sugar is high, you must also be sure that you have no ketones in your urine and that you are well-hydrated. Then your doctor might give you the OK to exercise with caution as long as you feel up to it.
Change your eating habits. You may need to meet with a dietitian to change the amount and types of foods you eat.
If you have type 1 diabetes and your blood sugar is more than 250 mg/dL, your doctor may want you to test your urine or blood for ketones.
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You Have Bad Breath And Dry Mouth
An unusual smell when you breathe in through your mouth might indicate that something is wrong with the way glucose moves throughout your system. This can cause a buildup in ketone levels within your blood, giving off an unpleasant odor, much like nail polish remover or acetone.
Sometimes people mistake this for regular bad breath, but if it happens frequently and seems to have no other cause, it could be a sign that your insulin balance is out of whack, so make sure to see a doctor as soon as possible if you notice this happening.
Gum disease is also a frequent problem for people with diabetes, so if you notice that your gums are inflamed or swollen, it might be a sign that blood sugar is starting to rise. The dry mouth associated with this problem can lead to the development of cavities and other dental issues, so make sure you’re drinking enough water throughout the day as well as brushing after meals if necessary.