Dodging Diabetes: Effects on the Body

The Reality

  • In 2007, the average medical expenditures among people diagnosed with diabetes were 2.3 times higher than what expenditures would be in the absence of diabetes.
  • Cost of caring for someone with diabetes: A person with diabetes spent $11,744 on health care compared to $5,095 for a person without the disease.

How Does Diabetes Affect The Body?

  • Heart – Diabetes, especially in people with high blood pressure and high cholesterol, causes heart disease. Heart disease is the #1 killer of people with diabetes. Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely than people without diabetes to have heart disease.
  • Stroke – People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to suffer a stroke than people without diabetes.
  • Eyes – High blood sugars can cause blurred vision and poorly-controlled diabetes can lead to blindness.
  • Teeth – High blood sugars can cause gum disease (periodontal disease) and gum disease can cause high blood sugars.
  • Reproductive Health and Pregnancy – Diabetes can complicate pregnancy.
  • Nerves – High blood sugars can damage nerves in any part of the body.
  • Lungs – People with diabetes are more likely to die with pneumonia or influenza than people who do not have diabetes.
  • Stomach – Poorly-controlled diabetes can cause nerve damage to the stomach leading to nausea, poor digestion and bloating.
  • Kidney – High blood sugars, especially if combined with high blood pressure, can cause kidney damage and lead to dialysis.
  • Feet – Diabetes can damage both the nerves and blood vessels to the feet leading to numbness, burning “pins and needles” feeling, poor circulation and possibly amputation.

Next Steps

The good news is that you can prevent most of these problems by keeping your blood glucose (blood sugar) under control. Being physically active, reducing fat and calorie intake and losing a little weight can help you reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

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Source: National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Division of Diabetes Translation.

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