How does diabetes affect you?  This is a question that people with diabetes often ask and is an extreme area of concern for diabetics.  This is one of the questions that a diabetic must be educated on after first becoming newly diagnosed.

Diabetics have the most problems with their feet.  This is caused by nerve damage in the feet and the narrowing of blood vessels in the legs.  These two problems can cause a tiny cut to become extremely infected and lead to gangrene of the foot.  Gangrene can lead to amputation of the foot or leg.

If a patient has nerve damage in a foot, they can not be able to tell when they have a small cut or skin damage and an infection could start before it is even noticed.  And with poor circulation, when there is a cut or any damage, there is insufficient blood flowing to the foot to fight the infection.

If a diabetic have toes or feet that are blue or pale – these are symptoms of poor circulation.  And if a diabetic feels numbness or tingling in their toes or feet, this is a symptom of nerve damage.  If a diabetic has any of these symptoms they should talk with their primary care physician immediately.

Prevention of foot problems is learning proper foot self care includes regularly washing and inspecting feet.  Carefully inspect feet for small cuts, breaks in the skin, blisters, corns or calluses.  Corns or calluses should be treated by a physician or nursing staff.  Small cuts should be treated with antibiotic ointments.

Another area of concern for diabetes is teeth and gums. Because of the problems with blood sugar, diabetics have a higher than normal amount of dental care problems.  This is because the diabetes when not under control reduces the number of white blood cells to fight infections in the mouth.

There are several areas that cause problems.  One of these is the problem of dry mouth caused by decreased saliva.  This can cause tooth decay, mouth ulcers and infections.  Help for this problem can include chewing sugarless gum, having sugarless mints available, frequent sips of water or melting ice chips in the mouth.

Another major problem is gum disease commonly known as gingivitis and periodontitis.  This is caused by fewer white blood cells to fight infections as well as the thickening of blood vessels which slows the flow of blood which carries nutrients to the mouth area and waste away from the mouth area.  Gum disease is caused by infections of the gums so these can cause gum disease to be much more severe and harder to control in people who suffer with diabetes.  Self care involves brushing at least twice daily as well as flossing daily.

Eye problems are another area of concern for diabetics. Diabetic retinopathy can develop which can lead to bad vision and even blindness.  This is because the blood vessels in the back of the eyes get weak and can lead to blood and fluid leaking into the retina from these weakened blood vessels.  So, it is important for the diabetic to have regular eye exams to have the blood vessels in the eye examined.

How does diabetes affect you and how can these problems be prevented? The best method of prevention is daily monitoring of blood glucose levels and managing this level as well as daily oral, foot and eye care.

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