You don’t want diabetes to take over your life and looks like you are in your way to avoid all the problems caused by diabetes. Are you?

Your life is too busy. Another meeting. Keep all your gadgets with you “live in the present”. You inject your insulin most of the times. Go to the gym or for a run when you have time, and because you are doing the best you can, why bother?

In fact, you are feeling slightly tired, a bit more than you used to. You can’t focus any longer because it has been a tough week at work and it’s normal to feel tired.

In some nights you just can’t sleep. You have been rushing to the toilet every three or so hours, or you had to treat hypos and get your snacks. In other cases you didn’t sleep because you were too worried about work. You are eating too much and feeling thirsty all the time but you didn’t even notice.

Are you sure that this is all about hard work and busy schedule effects? Or could this be related to your diabetes control?

I understand what you feel, how busy and hard you work to succeed but you must stop for a moment and think about your body and your diabetes management so you can keep going, in a healthier way.

Diabetes affects all the main organs of the body from head to toe literally. It is imperative that diabetes is under control in order to prevent complications to appear earlier in life.

The most common problems caused by diabetes

There are some common problems caused by diabetes. You have to pay special attention to some parts of your body or within feeling changes:

Let’s go through each of these affected components.

Brain

Brain activity of people with and without diabetes

Brain activity of people with diabetes (left) and without diabetes (right).

The brain is very dependent on glucose but it is also very sensitive to its variations.

For this matter it is very important that glucose levels are stable. Oscillations on blood glucose levels affect your capacity to:

  • Do complex tasks
  • Focus
  • Bring ideas to the table

It will make you less productive at your job and it can lead to higher risk of cognitive errors. If you look to the image, a bad diabetes management can lead to less activity in the brain.

Also, diseases such as Alzheimer are connected with diabetes following the mechanism of brain areas being deprived from blood flow.

Eyes

Your eyes are supplied with very sensible vessels. These vessels are damaged when in the presence of high levels of glucose. The blood supply gets altered resulting on a swollen vessel or a blood leak on the back of the eye.

Symptoms of these blood supply changes are:

  • Floaters or spots in vision field
  • Blurry vision

Other problems, such as cataracts and glaucoma, that are more likely to occur in individuals with diabetes, might occur earlier in time if blood glucose is not in control.

Cardiovascular system

All the organs of your body are supplied by vessels and arteries that are responsible to transport oxygen, carbon dioxide, nutrients, etc. 

High blood glucose levels can contribute to the formation of fatty deposits in blood vessel walls.

Diabetes raises the risk of developing high blood pressure and it doubles the risk of heart disease or stroke.

Gastric problems

During digestion, the stomach does its own movements to help the food to progress along the gastro-intestinal tract.

There are some parts of the stomach that will be deprived of blood and nutrients due to high blood glucose levels in the vessels that supply the stomach.

Once this happen the stomach loses the ability to contract fully and struggle to be completely emptied. This leads to a delayed digestion and can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, bloating, and heartburn.

Kidneys

The impact of diabetes in kidneys' function

The malfunction of the kidneys in people with diabetes

Diabetes affects the kidneys function.

The kidneys work to remove urea and other residual toxins that are not used or produced by the body, forming a dilute solution called urine.

Constant high blood glucose levels make the kidneys work more. This happens when a certain level of blood glucose is achieved, usually 10mmol/L. When the blood glucose hits that level, the brain forces the kidneys to get rid of the glucose rise.

The kidneys receive extra supply of blood in order to respond to the brain task. In the diabetes case, the blood supply is highly concentrated in sugar which will have impact on the kidney function reducing their filtration abilities.

This excess of urine will make you use the toilet more often. Also, because you lose more fluids than usual, you tend to feel much more thirsty.

Feet

Blood supply of your hands, legs and feet can also be affected by the same reasons that affected eyes and brain.

The blood supply, mostly from the legs to the feet, is disrupted also due the narrowing of the vessels from the top of the leg to the foot. These body parts can become cold and the sensibility is diminished due to lack of blood supply.

In consequence, the feet are more vulnerable to develop pressure points (check your shoe wear) and consequently to wounds.

Skin

Individuals with diabetes are prone to develop a condition called diabetic dermopathy that causes brown patches on the skin. 

They are also prone to develop hard yellow bumps with a red ring marks (eruptive xanthomatosis) and digital sclerosis that causes thick skin. Both cases are often a sign of uncontrolled blood glucose levels. The treatment for this skin condition is simple: controlled blood glucose levels.

Immune system

When your blood glucose is high, you are more susceptible to be sick.

A sugar surrounded environment is the perfect place for infections to develop. This means that you have high chance to be sick more often, being unable to work or do your job 100%.

This is connected to the increased difficulty that individuals with diabetes have to heal wounds.

Nervous system

Diabetes affects your nervous system due to sugar deposit in the nerves. As a result, there is a lack of sensation causing all sorts of problems as described in the feet section.

It is slightly confused but diabetes also damage the nerve endings that are the ones responsible to send messages from one part of the body to the brain.

If the nerves are damaged in some way, as it is when there is this deposit of sugar, it can lead to incorrect signals to be sent to the brain which in return will give continuous chronic pain.

This pain is very difficult to control and very frustrating to live with.

Sexual life

Diabetes has impact on your sexual life. For men, due to the nerve damage, they can develop erectile dysfunction and for women can develop vaginal dryness.


So, after all these problems caused by diabetes, are you still having second thoughts about starting to control your blood glucose?

As you can understand, for your best performance at work and in life, you should care more about your blood glucose control and your diabetes.

Diabetes is part of you and your daily routine so do not ignore it: control it.

Life goes on, but it can go even longer and healthier.