Individuals who have been diagnosed with prediabetes are at risk of developing a litany of physical disabilities that can severely alter their quality of life. Once blood sugar levels reach a diabetic level, which develops rather quickly when prediabetes goes untreated, the physical effects can go from nearly indolent to harsh. However, as we’ve previously discussed, prediabetic individuals can prevent the development of diabetes by addressing their diagnosis with exercise and a personalized nutrition plan.
Initially, the most common symptoms of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels) include increased thirst, frequent urination, headaches, blurred vision, and tingling in the hands and feet. While they may seem minor at first, these symptoms are the first hints that your body is undergoing major changes under the surface, unable to restore proper blood flow, nerve communication, and overall physiological function.
Long Term Diabetic Complications
As this continues, the strain on organs and major bodily systems becomes more severe, leading to serious complications in the following areas of the body:
- Blood Vessels: Higher than normal levels of blood sugar decrease the elasticity of your blood vessels, which causes them to narrow. This impedes blood flow, creating an immediate risk of high blood pressure and the ailments that come with it. Macrovascular disease is a common term associated with damage to the large blood vessels, and brings with it a far greater risk of heart attack, stroke, and peripheral arterial disease, and can also have lasting effects on the eyes, kidneys, and nervous system.
- Cardiovascular System: The CDC notes cardiovascular disease as the leading cause of death among people with diabetes. Because diabetes tends to occur with other conditions that put excess stress on the heart (obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol), individuals have a much higher risk of dying from strokes and other types of catastrophic heart disease.
- The Nervous System: Neuropathy is another serious long-term symptom, affecting involuntary and autonomic functions such as digestion, and causing numbness in the hands, feet, lower legs, and sometimes the hips and thighs. Diabetic neuropathy can result in an inability to perform daily functions, limiting the ability to walk and use the extremities. In severe cases that go untreated, it can result in the loss of limbs.
- Kidneys: Defined as diabetic nephropathy, kidney disease and failure can result from the damage to blood vessels in the kidneys. Unable to properly filter waste out of the blood and perform its natural function, the kidneys are stressed to an extent that can eventually cause kidney failure.
- Digestive System: Nerve damage can eventually prevent the stomach from properly moving food into the small intestines, resulting in Gastroparesis. Immediate effects are triggered during digestion, with side effects that include nausea, acid reflux, vomiting, bloating, and severe abdominal pain.
- Mental Health: Stress, anxiety, and fear are perhaps the most stringent side effects of diabetes. The cost of treatment, daily physical toil, and the time required to manage the disease can cause individuals to undergo serious mental strife, including depression. Unfortunately, the toll of the disease often leads individuals to retreat into old lifestyle habits that comfort them, habits that have contributed to the development of high blood sugar to begin with. With diet and exercise presenting the best opportunity to reverse and manage diabetes, this is highly problematic.
Other severe complications include the inability to heal properly from minor wounds, which raises the risk of developing serious infections, severe problems with vision, sexual health, fertility, skin, metabolism, and more.
What Can Be Done About Rising Blood Sugar?
Individuals who have been warned by their doctor about rising blood sugar levels often brush off the threat of a prediabetes diagnosis, imagining a worst-case scenario that involves finger pricks and insulin shots. Unfortunately, however, most of the serious effects go unseen until they become life-threatening – or at the very least – until they take an enormous toll on our overall well-being.
Addressing these problems as quickly as possible minimizes the risk of developing more serious complications, limiting the amount of time bodily systems have to be exposed to increased stress as a result of high blood sugar. By addressing weight problems with exercise, individuals can promote better blood flow and circulation, and also limit the excess stress on the cardiovascular system caused by obesity.
By addressing diet changes with an understanding of your individual microbiome, you can manage rising blood sugar levels with foods that prevent unnecessary blood sugar spikes, and begin to restore natural bodily functions.