Blood Sugar Control
In a person without diabetes, blood sugars range between 60 and 115 mg/dl. The body functions best at normal blood sugar levels.
If you have diabetes, your body is unable to control blood sugars on its own.
People with diabetes have blood sugars that rise above the normal range. When blood sugars are high, blood vessels and nerves suffer damage. High blood sugar also feeds germs, making infections more common. Certain parts of the body are prone to damage from high blood sugars, they include:
- Heart: High blood sugars damage the blood vessels. First by making them rigid and inflexible causing hypertension (high blood pressure). Second, by inviting fat and other matter to stick to the blood vessel walls. In time, the blood vessels may narrow or clog. This makes a heart attack more likely.
- Brain: Clogged blood vessels can block blood flow to the brain. This leads to a stroke.
- Eyes: Damage to the vessels of the eye can lead to blindness.
- Kidneys: Kidney blood vessel damage may lead to kidney failure. Dialysis (a machine that filters the blood) or kidney transplant is needed to treat kidney failures.
- Nerves: High blood sugars damage the nerves. Some nerves allow you to feel pain and hot or cold. Injury is more likely when these nerves are damaged. Other nerves control body functions. Nerves that control automatic functions in the stomach, intestines, bladder, sex functions. Nerves that control automatic functions in the stomach, intestines, bladder, sex organs, eyes, sweat glands and heart can be damaged.
- Feet and Legs: Nerve damage in the feet can lead to numbness. Sores, cuts and injury may not be noticed if they arenít felt. Less blood flow to the limbs slows healing. High blood sugars increase the chance of infection. All of these factors make infections more common and more severe in diabetes. Severe infections may lead to the need for amputation (removal of a toe, foot or leg).
- Skin: Skin infections are more likely when you have high blood sugars.
- Mouth: High amounts of sugar in the saliva increase the risk of gum disease. Poor blood flow to the gum tissue adds to this problem.
Diabetes accounts for 50% of all the kidney transplants, 50% of all the blindness
and over 50% of all the limb amputations in the U.S. every year.