You are in control
Taking care of yourself when you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes takes effort. You need to check your blood sugar, eat right, stay active, and take your medications. It makes a big difference; because it can help you avoid major problems throughout your body, even in places you might not expect. Stick to your treatment plan so you can help slow them down or prevent them altogether.
Gum disease and cavities
Diabetes makes you more likely to get infections inside your mouth, like gum disease or thrush, a fungal infection that can make painful white sores. Uncontrolled high blood sugar can also raise your risk of plaque and cavities. A 2015 study found that people with diabetes lose twice as many teeth as those without the disease. Make sure you tell your dentist about your condition, keep up with brushing, flossing, and rinsing with antiseptic mouthwash. Watch for bleeding gums or other symptoms of gum disease.
Problem with vision
Diabetes can lead to glaucoma (increased pressure in the eye) and cataracts (clouding of your eye’s lens). It also can damage the blood vessels in the retina at the back of your eye, a problem that doctors call diabetic retinopathy. All of these conditions can worsen your vision and even lead to blindness. By the time you notice your eyesight fading, serious harm may already have happened. So see your eye doctor regularly.
Many people with diabetes get nerve damage (neuropathy). It can happen anywhere in your body, but it most often affects your arms, legs, hands, and feet. Doctors call this peripheral neuropathy. Symptoms can include a tingling feeling, numbness, sensitivity, or pain. Another kind, called autonomic neuropathy, can affect urination, sex, digestion, and other body functions. It’s less likely if you aren’t overweight, and if you manage your blood pressure and blood sugar.
If diabetes damages your feet’s nerves, numbness can make you less likely to notice an injury or infection. Your condition can also make it harder for blood to flow in that area. Together, these problems can eventually cause so much harm that your toes or feet need to be amputated. Quit smoking and get exercise to make these problems less likely. Also, check your feet daily, keep them clean and moisturized, and wear shoes that fit well.
Many of these changes are due to infections, which diabetes makes more likely. Your skin may become itchy, it may feel thinner or thicker, or you may notice scaly or discolored patches. Circulation and nerve problems caused by diabetes can also affect your skin. It helps to stay at a healthy weight and keep your blood sugar under control. If you get sores or blisters due to an infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics, creams, or other medicine.
These happen much more often among people with diabetes, and they also tend to happen at an earlier age. A stroke happens when one of the vessels that sends blood to your brain becomes weakened, injured, or blocked. When brain tissue is deprived of blood, it can become permanently damaged within minutes. What can you do to prevent it? Watch your blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure. High numbers can mean higher risk. Exercise, stay at a healthy weight, and most importantly, avoid tobacco smoke.
The wear and tear on your blood vessels caused by diabetes means a lot of extra work for your heart. And people with the disease are more likely to be overweight or have other conditions, like high blood pressure and high cholesterol. All that adds up to a serious risk for heart disease. That's why it's key to follow a ticker-friendly lifestyle - exercise, eat a healthy diet, get regular cholesterol and blood pressure screening tests, and say no to smoking or second hand smoke.
Diabetes makes you more likely to get infections more often and to have complications. People with the disease face higher risks of getting gum disease, respiratory infections, the flu, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, yeast infections, and more. Make sure you stay up to date on vaccines, including immunizations for the flu and pneumonia.