Different health issues are directly related to the increased blood sugar level. Diabetes is not only a serious threat itself, but it also damages other organs and systems, making them impaired.
Diabetes is a severe condition in which glucose is continuously high, either due to reduced insulin production by the pancreas or insulin insensitivity in body cells. Whatever the reason is, both conditions develop serious consequences initially, like high blood sugar and worse complications later on.
High blood sugar damages the body silently, even sometimes well before diabetes diagnosis. There is a need to treat and manage this condition early before diabetes hits blood vessels, nerves, and other organs. As a person with diabetes, you should know how diabetes can affect your body!
Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms
Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes take time to show up; sometimes, a person lives with diabetes without even knowing it. Here are some common symptoms of type 2 diabetes:
- Increased hunger
- Urinate frequently
- More thirst
- Impaired vision
- Unintended weight
- Slow wound and sore healing
- Increase in infections
- Dark skin spots, usually in the neck and armpits
- Tingling and numbness in feet and hands.
How Does Type 2 Diabetes Affect Different Body Organs And Systems?
Diabetes generally affects your life by altering the functionality of different organs and systems in different ways. How could you live a normal life when vital organs are impaired? But, well-managed diabetes can save you from complications later on.
Here are 12 critical effects of diabetes on the overall body organs and systems:
1- Nervous System and Brain
Diabetic neuropathy is a well-known effect of diabetes that occurs due to damage to the nervous system. When your nerves are damaged, you can’t feel the perceptions like hot, cold, pain, etc. Several areas become desensitized, and you don’t even notice or feel any wound, leading to infections.
The brain is the first and essential part affected when blood sugar is low, as it directly relies on the available glucose. Also, proteins found in the brain which are related to dementia gets damaged due to diabetes.
Vital systems like the heart and digestive system function on a healthy nerve supply; if these are damaged, the body can’t perform well. Due to desensitization, the body can’t feel the wound and heal it, turning minor injury cuts into big wounds.
2- Cardiovascular System and Circulatory System
Your heart is the vital pumping organ of the body, and any threat to it could be deadly. And the blood vessels are the nutrient and blood transport pathway for different organs so that you can imagine its significance.
How does diabetes affect the heart? Well, diabetes generally encourages the deposition of fatty cells in the vasculature, creating a blockage. It restricts the blood flow, and the condition is called atherosclerosis. When the fatty cell plaque ruptures, platelets heal it and fill up the small arterial space. It leads to the development of heart attacks and strokes.
Diabetes affects the heart muscles and raises the chances of diastolic and systolic heart failure. Also, it is one of the leading causes of Peripheral Vascular Disease and Coronary Artery Disease. And according to CDC, those with diabetes have twice more chances of having heart failure and stroke than non-diabetes people.
3- Digestive System
The connection between diabetes and digestive system disorders can’t be ignored. You may feel heartburn, bloat, or nausea being a diabetic. But the question is, how diabetes pops up such digestive symptoms?
Diabetes is a leading cause of a digestive problem called gastroparesis, which affects the digestion of food. Food remains in the stomach instead of passing through the small intestine and other digestive organs in gastroparesis.
Continuous high blood sugar imposes changes in the vagus nerve, which supply the digestive system. The impaired vagus nerve fails to deliver a message about gastric muscle contraction that empties the stomach.
Diabetic gastroparesis is a more dangerous condition because delayed stomach emptiness leads to very low and very high blood sugar, worsening the vagus nerve function.
Diabetes affects the eyes and leads to poor vision and even blindness. It develops different optic abnormalities like diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, cataract, proliferative retinopathy, and diabetic macular edema.
High blood sugar over a short time doesn’t cause vision loss; however, it can impair the focus ability and create blurred vision. But, if the blood sugar is high for long periods, it can damage the tiny vasculature and lead to vision loss.
Diabetic retinopathy is a common diabetes complication affecting vision abilities. High blood sugar blocks the small blood vessels supplying the retina, hence restricting the blood flow. The eye tends to develop new blood vessels, but these are not formed properly, and there is a chance of leakage.
5- Mental Health
People with diabetes are more likely to get depressed, which is not suitable for their conditions. People with diabetes have 2 to 3 times more chances to have depression than people without diabetes.
Blood sugar changes also induce mood changes, anxiety, fatigue, and trouble thinking clearly. Stress has many reasons, and your diabetic condition is one of the leading reasons. You may feel low sometimes and feel it tough to stay strong and motivated.
Diabetes is a long-term illness; one can quickly be bored with the required lifestyle and take stress sometimes. However, anxiety can further worsen diabetes due to the release of several hormones. Hormones like cortisol increase blood sugar, which is a poison for diabetes.
You have to prevent the diabetic effect on mental health along with blood sugar control and other factors. Take care of yourself, your emotional feelings, and try to avoid having stress. Motivate yourself to fight this condition and focus on your ambition and better future.
6- Taste, Smell, and Hearing
Vision is not the only ability that gets affected by diabetes. If you notice a problem with hearing and ask people to repeat the question or talk, then it’s time to get your ear checked. Diabetes doubles the chance of your hearing loss as compared to non-diabetics.
Significantly, the nerve damage induced by diabetes has a role in losing the sensation of taste, smell, and hearing. The scent is essential for choosing, whether it be a food scent, perfume, or petrol leakage smell, right? According to neurologists, 50% of diabetes have a reduced sense of smell and taste.
Diabetic persons may experience a bad, salty, or sour taste in the mouth. Also, sometimes high blood sugar affects the taste of the mouth and develops a dry mouth and neuropathy due to damage to the mouth supplying nerves.
7- Immune system
The immune system strengthens the body to resist developing infections; without it, you are easily at risk of different diseases. White blood cells play a crucial role in immunity, but how would they function better being exhausted with high glucose levels?
Immune systems work in coordination with the circulatory system, as immune components travel through the blood. Effects of diabetes induce changes in the blood flow system, thus affecting the immune system. Poor circulation makes it difficult for immune cells to reach the wound or infection site and heal it timely.
Poor immune system complicates even those conditions, which are not as dangerous otherwise. If you have diabetes, even simple flu can make you hospitalized due to compromised immune functions.
8- Renal System
The renal system mainly comprises a pair of kidneys and is a vital system as it filters out waste from the blood and excretes via urine. If this system is compromised, then waste will remain in the body.
Continuous high blood sugar due to diabetes affects the tiny blood vessels of the kidney and makes them narrow and logged. It affects the filtering ability of kidneys, and waste toxins get retained in the body. Also, important body protein albumin is lost via compromised kidneys and ends up in urine where it should not be.
According to research, about 10 to 40% of type 2 diabetes eventually lose normal renal function.
9- Skin Issues
People with diabetes have more chances to get affected by skin infections. Diabetes sometimes leads to dry skin due to continuous high levels of blood sugar. Also, if the circulation is poor and skin infection may result in dry and itchy skin.
Diabetic complications affect different parts of the body, and unluckily skin, the largest organ, is affected. Diabetes develops several skin conditions such as Acanthosis nigricans, Diabetic dermopathy, Diabetic blisters, Digital sclerosis, etc. These all tend to create dry, itchy skin with painful red spots over the body.
According to an estimate, 1 out of 3 people with diabetes develop skin rash or skin issues at any stage of life. Hyperglycemia is the primary factor behind skin rash and other skin problems. How can you treat the diabetic skin problem? Well, you can’t cure this condition if you cannot manage blood sugar.
10- Tooth, Gums, and Mouth
Mouth infections develop commonly along with diabetes, but you are unaware of the reason, Right? Increased blood glucose levels raise the sugar level in saliva, serving as the growth medium for bacteria inside the mouth. Also, this extra sweetened saliva induces plaque development, which can later cause decay of teeth, tooth cavity, and mouth cavity.
Gum diseases due to diabetes could be more severe and take time to heal, making it challenging to manage blood sugar. Gingivitis is recognized as inflamed gums and usually appears with swollen, red, and bleeding gums. If gingivitis goes untreated, it can develop a periodontitis condition that is more severe and worst infected.
Some common oral problems that develop with diabetes include dry mouth or xerostomia, thrush or candidiasis, poor healing of infection, and oral burning. Interestingly, people who have diabetes and are smokers have 20% more chances of developing periodontitis and thrush than nonsmoker diabetics.
11- Bladder and Reproductive Organs
According to a survey, over 50% of women and men having diabetes are affected by bladder dysfunction. Uncontrolled blood sugar can induce more urination, so the bladder has to store more fluid.
Sometimes, the bladder is filled with urine, but due to diabetic nerve damage affects it doesn’t send a message for urination response. In this case, urine gets retained and is a growth media for opportunistic bacteria leading to Urinary Tract Infections. Diabetes lowers the body’s control over bladder muscles, and you may experience leaked pee.
Erectile dysfunction is a commonly observed effect of diabetes on men, which affects their sexual life. They may develop conditions like reduced libido, retrograde ejaculation as a result of diabetes. While women with diabetes commonly face a lower sex drive, reduced lubrication and sex may hurt them.
Feet are the common and easy target for diabetes, and some factors also aid in creating problematic feet. Diabetic neuropathy, a condition of nerve damage, makes the feet insensitive, and a person doesn’t feel any wound or sore over the feet until it worsens.
Similarly, diabetes lowers the blood flow towards the extremities like feet, making infections difficult to heal. A weakened immune system due to diabetes also hurdles the normal healing process. Also, diabetes causes the feet’ skin to dry, which peels and cracks off easily, making them more susceptible to infections.
How can I overcome my feet problem? Observe your feet daily and look for any minor wound or ulcer for immediate treatment. Wash them daily and apply moisturizer over dry feet for better results. Or else you can check your diabetes score quickly and let it be treated accordingly.
How To Avoid Diabetes Complications
A healthy lifestyle and careful management are vital for avoiding diabetes complications; medicine alone doesn’t have a 100% impact. Following are a few simple tips to prevent diabetes complications and manage blood sugar.
- Manage your diabetic diet
- Quit smoking
- Reduce weight if you are overweight
- Physical activity
- Monitor blood sugar daily
- Say no to sweet beverages etc
FAQs: How Type 2 Diabetes Can Damage Your Body
1- What is the average lifespan of a person with type 2 diabetes?
According to a study, a 55-year-old man who has type 2 diabetes can live around 13.2 to 21.1 years, and in general, life expectancy is another 24 years.
2- Can Diabetes Type 2 Be Cured?
No, you can’t cure type 2 diabetes permanently, but you can reverse the condition and manage blood sugar levels through efficient management.
3- If type 2 diabetes is left untreated, what would happen?
If type 2 diabetes goes untreated, then it gives rise to complications. High blood sugar affects different cells and organs of the body and compromises normal physiological functions.
4- Which type of diabetes is worse, 1 or 2?
Type 1 diabetes is usually worse than type 2 diabetes. But still, type 2 diabetes comes up with serious complications if it goes untreated.
5- How do you know when your diabetes is getting worse?
When diabetes complications start to develop, then you should worry because diabetes is getting worse now.
6- How does diabetes type 2 affect the body in the long term?
Long-term effects of diabetes came up with severe complications like foot problems, vision impairment, kidney damage, etc.
The effect of diabetes on the body could be alarming for you, but these effects develop only if you can’t manage your diabetes. Check your health score to know how well your body health is performing against diabetes. Correct medication along with a healthy lifestyle is necessary to overcome this condition. Consult your doctor regularly and get your genetic testing done for a better idea of your diabetic condition.