How Persistent High Blood Sugar Affects the Heart, Eyes, Kidneys, Brain, Nerves, and Teeth | Diabetes Health Page

How Persistent High Blood Sugar Affects the Heart, Eyes, Kidneys, Brain, Nerves, and Teeth

By NeNa | Articles

Dec 22

Diabetes is one of the most common diseases of our time. It’s characterized by high blood glucose levels which can wreak havoc on different organs in the body when persisting for a long time.

That’s why it’s crucial to control your blood glucose. If you have type 1 diabetes, that means taking insulin shots every day as your pancreas produce little to no insulin. On the other hand, you can control type 2 diabetes with proper diet, exercise, medication, or insulin.

Both types of diabetes require following a healthy lifestyle and diet habits, and regular blood sugar testing.

However, if you don’t control your diabetes, it can cause a host of health problems. Besides high blood sugar, uncontrolled diabetes is usually accompanied by high cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

The most common organs affected by persistent high blood glucose include the eyes, kidneys, heart, teeth, nerves, etc. What’s more, uncontrolled diabetes raises the risk of death from stroke and cardiovascular disease.

Here’s how uncontrolled diabetes affects your organs.

1. Effect on the Heart

A 2013 study explains that a person with diabetes has a higher risk of heart failure, heart attack, artery blockage (coronary artery disease), and death by 2-4 times than a person without diabetes.

If the blood sugar level stays high for a longer time, it can cause irritation and damage to the insides of the arteries which transfer oxygen-rich blood to the heart. As a consequence, cholesterol and fat deposits will accumulate in the arteries, making them narrower.

This, in turn, will obstruct the blood flow, causing coronary artery disease.  That’s why people with diabetes have a higher risk of developing this disease.

In severe cases, the arteries can become completely blocked, not allowing the oxygen to get to the heart. As a result, you’ll experience a heart attack.

Diabetes-related symptoms like stomach fat, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure levels can also cause heart disease.

2. Effect on the Kidneys

Diabetes damages the kidneys’ tiny filters responsible for discharging the waste material through the urine and retaining essential substances like red blood cells and proteins. And, not having a proper filtration process means loss of important proteins like albumin.

Excess loss of albumin is called microalbuminuria which could mark the beginning of a kidney failure. Research shows that kidney disease as a result of diabetes, or diabetic nephropathy, is the most common cause of last stage kidney disease. It’s when your kidneys fail to support you.

Kidney failure can develop slowly in diabetes patients, but high blood pressure accelerates it.

3. Effect on Nerves

Nerves transmit messages from the brain to the different organs in our bodies, allowing us to move, see, hear, breathe and feel.

50% of people with diabetes will probably experience some kind of nerve damage or diabetic neuropathy. That’s because high blood glucose interferes with the ability of nerves to send signals to different organs.

What’ more, persistent high blood glucose causes irritation on the walls of blood capillaries. So, they are no longer able to supply the nerves with the necessary nutrients and oxygen, thus damaging them severely.

Nerve damage can affect your hands, legs, reproductive organs, and gastrointestinal tract.

4. Effect on the Brain

Diabetes affects the brain as well. Diabetologia published a study in 2007, showing that people with type 2 diabetes had reduces white matter in the brain. Loss of this area of the brain affects the cognitive functions, leading to mental decline over time.

Type 2 diabetes could also affect one’s cognitive functions and mental abilities. Also, there’s the risk of vascular cognitive impairment and cerebrovascular disease over time.

5. Effect on the Teeth

Diabetes reduces the ability of people to fight infections, thus increasing the risk of different mouth disorders. In fact, it increases the risk of developing cavities and tooth decay, gingivitis, periodontitis, oral thrush, and burning mouth syndrome.

6. Effect on the Eyes

One 2015 study shows that those with diabetes have higher chances of contracting blindness. In fact, both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can cause many eye disorders that can have long-lasting consequences.

Some of the most common diabetes-related eye problems include:

  • Diabetic retinopathy – which can lead to loss of vision and blindness
  • Diabetic macular edema – vision damage that affects the ability to read, drive, write, and identify faces
  • Cataracts – the most common cause of blindness
  • Glaucoma – damage to the optic nerve which can cause permanent vision loss

How to Control Diabetes

Here are few tips to control your blood sugar levels:

  • Take your prescribed diabetes medications and insulin regularly and on time
  • Eat low-carb vegetables, whole-grains, plant-based proteins, fish, and seafood
  • Avoid sugar, carbs, processed food, sodas, saturated fats
  • Exercise regularly, or at least have regular physical activity such as walking
  • Manage stress
  • Record your blood sugar levels
  • See your health care team at least two times a year

By knowing how diabetes could affect your organs and body, we hope you’ll take better care to control your blood sugar levels the best you can.