November is National Diabetes Month in the United States, so Dr. Sean P. Nikravan and our team are addressing this important health topic in this month's blog post.
For the 37.3 million Americans — more than 11% of the population — who are living with diabetes, the threat of complications looms large. While we dislike unnecessarily frightening our patients, the risks associated with this chronic disease are life-altering and can be life-threatening. In other words, it’s best to have your eyes wide open when it comes to diabetes. Here are six reasons why.
1. Peripheral neuropathy
Up to half of people with diabetes develop peripheral neuropathy. This complication typically develops in your lower limbs and occurs when high levels of blood sugar damage your peripheral nerves. When this happens, you can develop ulcers or wounds that don’t readily heal, placing you at great risk for infection.
Unfortunately, more than half of lower limb amputations in the US are due to diabetes and peripheral artery disease.
2. Vision loss
Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults age 20-74. High blood sugar levels can damage the tiny blood vessels that serve your retina, leading to diabetic retinopathy. People with diabetes are also more at risk for glaucoma and cataracts.
3. Kidney disease
Your kidneys are small organs that filter your blood, removing waste and extra fluids from your body. They also produce hormones and regulate chemicals in your body.
Many people with diabetes also have high blood pressure that, over time, damages the blood vessels in the kidneys, leading to kidney failure. In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure in the US.
4. Cardiovascular disease
We’ve already mentioned that people with diabetes often develop high blood pressure, but the cardiovascular complications don't stop there. People with diabetes are at far greater risk for:
- Imbalanced lipids
- Atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries)
- Peripheral artery disease
- Heart disease, such as heart attack and stroke
While cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the US, having diabetes can increase your risks.
5. Gum disease
People with diabetes are more vulnerable to gum disease because they have a higher inflammatory response to bacteria.
6. Hearing loss
People with diabetes are twice as likely to experience hearing loss than people who don’t have the condition. Researchers aren’t exactly clear on why, but they believe high blood sugar levels can damage sensitive blood vessels in your inner ear.
As you can see, the list of serious complications that stem from diabetes is extensive. The good news in all of this is that you can manage most of these side effects — and even prevent them — with an experienced diabetes expert in your corner, such as our own Dr. Nikravan.
For personalized oversight and management of your diabetes, please contact our office in Newport Beach, California, to set up an appointment.