6 Health Problems to Watch For

6 Health Problems to Watch For

Diabetes is hard to manage. Proper diabetes management requires creating new lifestyle habits, adhering to medicine, and constant glucose monitoring. The hardest part is that it never stops. It is easy to let one part of your regime slip. Especially when you are feeling stressed or anxious.

If you are not a “routine” type of person, you may have problems sticking to a healthy long-term plan in most aspects of your life. For others, diabetes is volatile. Their blood sugar swings can be unpredictable, frequent, and severe. The glucose can be even harder to manage when you are just generally unhealthy.

The problem is: very high sugar levels in the blood for a long time, can cause serious damage to your blood vessels. When the blood vessels don’t work like they are supposed to, they impede circulation. Once your blood vessels have become damaged, other parts of your body are likely to develop problems.

Here is a list of health problems to watch for when you have diabetes.

  1. Problems With Feet

Feet problems due to diabetes can happen to anyone. So, how do diabetic foot problems start?

Increased glucose over time, damages the sensation in the feet. It affects blood flow, which hinders blood supply to the feet. Without proper circulation, the feet might have a hard time healing sores and cuts. You are also more prone to foot pain and leg cramps.

If you don’t treat foot problems, you can develop infections and foot ulcers. Diabetic foot ulcers are a classic complication of uncontrolled diabetes. 

Diabetic foot ulcers are open wounds or sores that affect roughly 15% of diabetic patients. This problem often occurs due to poor foot care, lack of blood sugar control, peripheral vascular disease, or underlying neuropathy (nerve damage).

  1. Problems With Vision

Diabetes can damage the eyes. With time, this metabolic condition can cause poor vision, and in some severe cases, it can lead to blindness. 

Diabetic patients can develop diabetic eye disease. These are different eye problems that often require regular eye checkups and treatment. Some of these conditions can include: 

  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts
  • Diabetic macular edema
  • Diabetic retinopathy

According to a recent meta-analysis, the prevalence of diabetic retinopathy in people with type 1 diabetes was much higher compared to those with type 2 diabetes.

Some of the signs of diabetic eye disease include wavy or blurry vision, dark areas, seeing dark strings or spots, light flashes, or a decrease in color vision. 

Now, having blurry vision with diabetes doesn’t always mean you have diabetic eye disease. Your vision can get temporarily blurry for a couple of days or weeks after you change your medicine or diabetes treatment plan. 

Elevated blood sugar can also lead to blurry vision. This symptom should subside after you get your blood sugar under control. 

When the blood sugar remains high for a very long time, that’s when damage to the eyes can cause blood vessel problems and hurt your sight.

  1. Problems With Oral Health

Anyone can develop tooth problems, receding, swollen, or bleeding gums. Both advanced gum disease (periodontitis) and early-stage gum disease (gingivitis) are common oral health issues.

They start with plaque – a sticky and soft substance, which accumulates over time and mostly consists of bacteria. Bacteria in someone without diabetes is not different than in a patient with diabetes. The difference is in how the body reacts to the bacteria.

For a person with uncontrolled diabetes, there are bigger odds of having a stronger inflammatory response. Inflammation in the mouth can weaken the body’s ability to manage glucose levels. This can lead to more tooth and gum tissue problems. 

The most common oral manifestations of diabetes are: 

  • Dry mouth
  • Higher tendency to oral infections
  • Dental caries
  • Periodontal disease
  • Burning mouth
  • Gingivitis
  • Distorted sense of taste

Dry mouth is a particularly common problem. The prevalence of dry mouth in diabetic patients varies between 34% and 51%. A dry mouth can lead to several problems such as trouble swallowing, eating, or speaking.

It is important to get regular dental appointments, keep your blood glucose stable, and watch for any signs of poor oral health. Such as tooth pain, discomfort, bleeding gums, dry mouth, bumps, or sores. The sooner you spot the problem, the easier it is to treat.

  1. Problems With Hearing

Diabetes can damage the blood vessels and nerves in the inner ear. This could trigger hearing loss. 

Diabetic patients have twice the incidence of hearing loss compared to those without metabolic conditions. Also, individuals with prediabetes have 30% bigger odds of hearing loss.

So, how do you know if you have hearing problems from diabetes? Some of the classic signs include:

  • Having to turn up the sound or TV volume too loud and too often
  • Problems following conversations with multiple people
  • Thinking that others are mumbling
  • Having to ask people to repeat themselves too often

To protect the ears, keep the glucose within a target range. Consult with a healthcare practitioner if you do suffer from hearing loss or impaired hearing.

  1. Problems With Nerve Damage

There are different types of nerve damage from diabetes. The impact and symptoms vary based on the problem you have. Some of these include:

  • Autonomic nerve damage – It affects the intestines, bladder, heart, eyes, or sex organs. 
  • Proximal nerve damage – It usually affects the legs, buttocks, hips, and thighs.
  • Focal nerve damage – It affects the nerves in the legs, torso, head, or hands.
  • Peripheral nerve damage – It affects the arms, legs, feet, and hands. 

Nerve damage is typically recorded by increased sensitivity, pain, tingling, weakness, or numbness. See a doctor if you notice a change in sexual function, urination, or digestion.

  1. Problems With Kidney Damage

The kidneys are delicate organs. When you don’t manage your diabetes, and the glucose skyrockets too often, you can experience damage to the kidneys. This makes it difficult to filter the waste, which, in turn, increases blood pressure.

Diabetic kidney disease occurs in roughly 40% of diabetic patients. This is a serious complication of type 2 and type 1 diabetes. It can lead to swelling of the eyes, hands, ankles, and feet, protein in the urine, and poor blood pressure control.