Five surprising facts about diabetes

Chronic Conditions | Wellness | August 23, 2017
Don’t let diabetes or the complications of the disease take you by surprise

Since more than 100 million Americans either have diabetes or are at high risk for developing it, chances are good that you or someone you know have the disease. 

And while the condition is fairly common, you might be surprised by the following facts about diabetes:

  1. You can have diabetes (or pre-diabetes) and not know it. If you experience any, symptoms might include frequent urination, unusual thirst, extreme fatigue, extreme hunger, frequent infections or tingling or numbness in the hands or feet, among others.
  2. Uncontrolled diabetes can affect every aspect of your health. Here are just a few areas at stake with diabetes:
    1. Dental health. High sugar helps bacteria (plaque) build up on teeth.
    2. Digestive health. Diabetes can damage the nerve that controls the way food moves through your stomach and intestines.
    3. Skin health. High blood sugar levels cause the body to lose fluid and lead to infections, itching and dryness.
    4. Vision. Diabetes can damage the tiny blood vessels inside the retina and lead to partial or total vision loss.
  3. ​Diabetes is a significant risk factor for heart disease and stroke because diabetes may raise blood cholesterol levels. Cholesterol can build up and narrow your blood vessels, which makes it difficult for blood to flow freely.
  4. Stress can increase your blood sugar levels. This is true for everyone—whether we have diabetes or not. Besides the hormonal effect of stress, it’s tough to stay on our best behavior under these conditions. Because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t feel like eating things we shouldn’t when we’re feeling stressed out? 
  5. Diabetes can be managed and pre-diabetes can be stopped, if caught early and treated with relatively simple measures such as losing weight, cutting back on daily calories and staying physically active.

Don’t let diabetes or the complications of the disease take you by surprise. Talk with your doctor about strategies to keep your risks in check.