Type 2 diabetes accounts for up to 95% of all adult diabetes cases. According to the National Diabetes Statistics Report published in 2020, it’s estimated that 34 million Americans have diabetes. Another 88 million Americans have prediabetes, which means having blood sugar levels above normal but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis.
Diabetes affects your health in a number of ways and increases your risk for serious health problems. Internal medicine physician Samuel I. Fink, MD, offers comprehensive primary care — including a specialty in diabetes — to help you lead a long, healthy life.
It's important to work closely with a health care provider to manage Type 2 diabetes so you reduce your risk of complications. Learning how the condition affects your health is a good place to start.
Your body relies on a steady supply of glucose to function properly. However, too much glucose in your blood is harmful to many body systems. That's why your body releases insulin, the blood sugar-regulating hormone, to keep blood glucose within a tightly controlled range.
In individuals with Type 2 diabetes, cells are less responsive to the effects of insulin, which results in elevated blood sugar. Initially, you may not have any symptoms of high blood sugar. When blood glucose becomes significantly elevated, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Frequent urination
- Blurred vision
- Increase thirst
It's important to get high blood sugar under control as quickly as possible to reduce the damage to your body.
How diabetes affects your health
When your blood sugar is persistently elevated over a long period of time, it affects many different parts of the body.
Blood vessel damage
Damage to your blood vessels is one of the most common consequences of Type 2 diabetes. When too much blood sugar remains in your system, it damages the blood vessels that supply nutrient-rich blood to your body.
Some blood vessels are very small and delicate and easily damaged, such as those in your kidneys and in your eyes. Damage to blood vessels can cause problems such as kidney disease. In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure. Diabetic eye disease is another consequence of poorly controlled diabetes.
Damage to nerves
High blood sugar causes nerve damage, and diabetic neuropathies are a collection of nerve disorders associated with diabetes. Diabetes can damage the nerves in your hands, arms, feet, and legs, causing tingling, numbness, loss of sensation, and pain. You're more likely to develop diabetic neuropathy if your diabetes isn’t well controlled.
Increased risk for heart disease
Diabetes can affect your heart health in several ways. Diabetes-related damage to your blood vessels can cause them to stiffen, raising your risk for issues like high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.
Because diabetes can damage the blood vessels and nerves that supply sensation and nutrients to your legs and feet, foot problems are common. Having diabetes means taking special care of your feet.
Diabetes can increase your risk of developing foot ulcers, calluses, and foot infections. If not managed appropriately diabetes can cause problems that lead to serious infection and even amputation.
Managing your diabetes
If left unchecked, Type 2 diabetes can take a major toll on your health. Fortunately, you can reduce the health impact of diabetes, and it starts with a visit to a doctor who can help you manage the condition — and even help prevent it if you haven’t yet been diagnosed.
If you have concerns about diabetes, reach out to a knowledgeable staff member to schedule a visit with Dr. Fink by calling our office in Tarzana, California. You can also request an appointment online anytime.