There are 9 complications of Type 2 Diabetes that may catch you off-guard if you’re not looking for them.
By now you know that Type 2 Diabetes can increase the risk for heart disease, kidney disease, nerve damage, and amputations.
But, there are other issues associated with poor control of your blood sugar which can affect other parts of your body as well.
Even if your blood sugar isn’t perfectly controlled yet, lowering your A1C level even a little bit will help lower your risks.
Unfortunately, many people don’t make the necessary changes until they experience the complications caused by years of high blood sugar, poor diets, lack of exercise and elevated levels of A1C.
You don’t want to go there…So, take a look at these nine lesser-known complications of Type 2 diabetes that may catch you off-guard, and learn how to avoid them.
1. Cognitive Decline
According to research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 3 yrs ago, imaging tests of the brains of people with diabetes showed brain changes.
Although the relationship between blood sugar levels and altered memory and knowledge/understanding isn’t fully understood yet, it appears that controlling blood sugar may cut the risks.
People with diabetes have an increased risk for depression when compared with their peers, according to a review of data from 16 studies, published in 2015 by the Community Mental Health Journal.
As reported by the National Institute of Mental Health, symptoms of depression include:
- Changing sleep patterns
The good news is that depression can be treated safely, so let your doctor know if you notice one or more of these symptoms.
3. Hearing Loss
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) reports that hearing loss appears to be about twice as common in people with diabetes as it is in those who don’t have the disease.
Signs of hearing loss include:
- Difficulty hearing what people are saying to you
- Needing to turn up the volume on the TV and radio
- Feeling that people around you are always mumbling, leaving you struggling to keep up with conversations in a crowded or noisy room.
If you’re concerned or notice any of these symptoms, see an Audiologist for a hearing test.
4. Gum Disease
Doctors and researchers alike are seeing evidence that gum disease in diabetics is related to high blood sugar levels.
The ADA recommends that diabetics watch for these warning signs of gum disease:
- Sore or swollen gums
- Loosening teeth
They recommend brushing and flossing regularly as well as visiting your dentist every 6 months to prevent infections and other complications.
5. Skin Infections
Your risk of infection goes up with elevated blood sugar.
- Symptoms include painful, red areas on your skin.
In addition to controlling blood sugar, you can prevent skin infections by:
- Keeping skin clean and dry
- Keeping sores and cuts clean and covered and
- Moisturizing your skin regularly
6. Fungal Infections
Diabetes can raise your risk for fungal infections, too, because things like to grow in a nice, warm, sugary environment.
This includes fungal infections such as:
- Vaginal yeast infections
- Jock itch
- Athlete’s foot
- Red areas surrounded by white scales
- A yeasty or fungal smell
These infections should be treated by a doctor. You can help avoid them by keeping your skin clean and dry.
Diabetics are 20% more likely to experience a hip fracture than their peers, according to research published in February 2015 in Osteoporosis International.
This could be due to the weakening of the bone matrix, caused by high blood sugar levels.
Lower bone density happens silently, so your best bet for prevention is to control your blood sugar, get a bone density screening, and learn how to reduce your risk for falls.
8. Autonomic Neuropathy
High blood sugar can also affect the nerves in your legs and feet.
This is called autonomic neuropathy and affects the nerves that control involuntary bodily functions, such as:
- Heart rate
- Blood pressure
- Bladder function and
The symptoms depend on which part of your autonomic nervous system is affected.
One possible symptom of autonomic neuropathy is Gastroparesis, a disorder in which the stomach takes too long to empty its contents.
Symptoms such as the following may be related to diabetic nerve damage:
- Acid Reflux
- Feeling full soon right after starting to eat
- Nerve damage.
The best way to avoid this complication is by:
- Monitoring and managing your blood sugar
- Making changes to your eating habits, such as eating smaller, more frequent meals
According to research published in 2015 by Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, Erectile dysfunction (an inability to have an erection) is another possible result of damage to the autonomic nerves.
- When the researchers compared health information among 220 Italian men with Type 2 Diabetes, they found that 52.9% of them had ED.
- They also found that rates of ED increased as A1C numbers went up.
While ED can be treated, it can also be prevented with good blood sugar control. Read about The Challenge Of Sexual Dysfunction In Diabetics For Men And Women.
Each of these 9 complications of Type 2 Diabetes has the potential to severely change your life and activity level.
The good news is that with consistent diabetes management, all of them can be prevented, and in many cases, reversed.