When you first hear the word “diabetes”, your first thought is likely to be high blood sugar. Blood sugar is often an underestimated component of your health. Diabetes affect your body’s ability to produce or use insulin, a hormone that allows your body to turn glucose into energy. Normally after you drink or eat, your body will break down sugars from your food and use them for energy in your cells. To accomplish this, the pancreas needs to produce a hormone called the insulin. “Insulin is what facilitates the process of pulling sugar from the blood and putting it in cells for energy production (Rushton, Lynette).
” A person who affects diabetes pancreas either produces too little insulin or none at all. The insulin can’t be used effectively and isn’t the right amount. This allows blood glucose levels to rise while the rest of your cells are deprived. This can lead to a wide variety of problems affecting nearly every major body system. Diabetes causes damage to the central nervous system which includes diabetic neuropathy, or damage to the nerves. The high blood sugar from diabetes affects the nerves and over time increases a person’s risk for nerve damage. The most common type of nerve disease (neuropathy) affects both sensory nerves, which send information to the spinal cord and brain, and motor nerves, which relay impulses from the brain and spinal cord to move muscles. This is called diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
As a result of this neuropathy, many people with diabetes can’t feel when they have injured their feet, and they may not know if calluses or ulcers form. “According to a 2005 statement by the American Diabetes Association, up to 50 percent of people with diabetes have peripheral neuropathy. This typically starts as numbness or tingling that progresses to loss of pain and heat and cold perception in feet or hands, making it difficult to sense an injury (Cullen, Katherine).
” Another type of nerve damage called “diabetic autonomic neuropathy affects nerves regulating the heart, blood vessels, and digestive and other systems (Schacter, Bernice).” This condition can lead to problems with blood pressure, heart rhythm and digestion.The circulatory system is highly affected by diabetes, as Diabetes raises your risk of developing high blood pressure, which puts further strain on your heart. When you have high blood glucose levels, this can contribute to the formation of fatty deposits in blood vessel walls. Over time, it can restrict blood flow and increase the risk of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the blood vessels. “According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, diabetes doubles your risk of heart disease and stroke (Sullivan, Robert).
” In addition to monitoring and controlling your blood glucose, good eating habits and regular exercise can help lower the risk of high blood pressure. Diabetes damages the digestive system and can lead to a condition called Gastroparesis. Gastroparesis means the paralysis of your stomach. Like all other parts of your body, the stomach receives signals from nerves. The nerve supplying the stomach is called the vagus nerve. “The vagus nerve controls the movements of the stomach and allows the pyloric sphincter to relax. When one has diabetes, it means they have uncontrolled levels of blood sugar (Adamec A. Petit).
” High blood sugar damages almost all the nerves in the body, including the vagus nerve too. As a result, “one can develop gastroparesis in which the stomach does not contract and pyloric sphincter does not relax to allow the food to enter into the intestines (Panno, Joseph).” This way, the food remains in the stomach for too long. Gastroparesis may cause symptoms such as Nausea, Vomiting, Bloating or even Heartburn.
Complications of diabetes arise from long-term exposure to high blood sugar. The cardiovascular, nervous, and digestive systems are most commonly affected by chronically high blood sugars. Diabetes can be effectively managed during the early stages, however, when it is left untreated, “it can lead to potential complications that include heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, and nerve damage (Whittemore, Susan).” Diabetes is a lifelong disease that can’t be cured. But it can be managed.
It’s easier to do this if you understand what’s going on in your body.