When it comes to living a healthy life in 21st-century America, the deck is stacked against us. More and more of us work jobs that tether us to our desks for eight hours a day, and when we do get off work, we’re too mentally exhausted for a proper workout. Combine this lifestyle with a diet full of carbohydrates and empty calories, and it’s no surprise that the diagnosis of adult-onset, or type 2, diabetes is on the rise in America.
While it’s a condition nobody is happy about, type 2 diabetes is not a death sentence. Many people with type 2 diabetes maintain a high quality of life through active and conscientious management. Still, even people who try their best to maintain healthy blood sugar levels notice the effects of diabetes on the body. Here are some complications to watch out for in type 2 diabetes, some of which may need your immediate attention.
Neuropathy, or nerve pain, occurs in people with diabetes when elevated glucose levels in the blood damage nerves, typically in extremities. This pain can take the form of tingling in mild cases or sharp stabbing pain in more severe instances. Several techniques exist for treating diabetic neuropathy, from topical medications and medical devices to off-label uses of pharmaceuticals.
One of the first places elevated blood sugar manifests itself is in the tiny blood vessels of the eyes. High glucose can cause the lens to swell, which blurs vision. Keeping blood sugar within acceptable parameters can prevent this. However, even well-cared-for lenses are more susceptible to developing cataracts later in life, which will require the removal of the natural lens and implantation of an artificial one to restore clear vision. Those with diabetes also have a higher risk of developing glaucoma, which occurs due to optic nerve damage. The most dangerous of this type of damage appears in diabetic retinopathy, where damage to the delicate cells of the retina can cause irreversible blindness.
Slower Wound Healing
One of the most dangerous complications to watch out for in type 2 diabetes is that the body cannot repair injuries as swiftly with elevated blood sugar as it might typically. A surfeit of glucose in the blood reduces the blood’s ability to nourish and oxygenate cells, which, along with increased inflammation, makes it difficult to heal a wound as the body normally would. Worse, this same high blood sugar can weaken the immune system, lowering the body’s ability to fight infections that enter the body through cuts and scrapes. Take extra care of wounds to prevent them from developing small infections that can turn into more dangerous problems—amputations are over ten times more likely in people with diabetes.