If you’ve been suffering from repetitive skin infections, high blood pressure and cholesterol, or kidney problems, these all may be side effects of diabetes. Unfortunately, diabetes may also be responsible for a host of other health complications which may surprise you. Although not as common as other symptoms, diabetes can lead to issues that seem to have nothing to do with insulin levels. If you have the condition, these may be some symptoms to be aware of and to bring up to a healthcare professional.
People with diabetes are more susceptible to infections of all sorts, including periodontal disease. This is due to the increase in blood sugar which affects the collagen composition of the gums. With the inflammation of the gums and development of abscesses, gum disease can also raise blood sugar levels, which makes diabetes more difficult to control. Consequently, it’s important to always brush your teeth twice a day, floss, and rinse with an antiseptic, sugar-free mouthwash.
Men with diabetes have often reported low testosterone levels, which can cause erectile dysfunction. This is especially common in obese people. It is also possible for long-term diabetics to experience changes in blood vessels and nerve supply which can lead to sexual complications.
Vision and hearing loss
By causing difficulties with blood vessels, diabetes can also lead to problems with vision and hearing. Retinopathy, or destruction of the light-sensitive tissue in the retina, is common in people with diabetes. High blood sugar levels can damage the highly sensitive blood vessels in the eye, resulting in damage up to seven years before symptoms develop. People with diabetes are also twice as likely to develop hearing loss than people without the condition. This is caused by high glucose levels damaging the blood vessels in the inner ear.
Brain health issues
Because high glucose levels influence blood vessel health, diabetes can also cause complications with blood flow in the brain. This can lead to difficulty remembering things, making plans, prioritizing, paying attention, and other skills associated with executive function. While a loss in executive function is common with aging, there is a correlation between people with diabetes and a more rapid loss of mental function.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) affects approximately half of people with diabetes and can make diabetes more difficult to control. Additionally, in non-diabetics, OSA can lead to the future development of diabetes. OSA is a serious condition that may require a device to open up the throat during sleep or a mouthpiece that pushes the jaw forward for the same effect. In severe cases, surgery may be required.