November is Diabetes Awareness Month

More than 30 million people—or nearly 10 percent of the U.S. population—had diabetes in 2015.  American Indians/Alaska Natives had the highest prevalence of diagnosed diabetes for both men (14.9%) and women (15.3%). Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2015.

Diabetics who smoke, are overweight and physically inactive, or have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or high blood glucose are at higher risk for complications. Uncontrolled diabetes increases the risk of hospitalizations and emergency room visits. It also increases the risk of diabetic eye disease, periodontal disease, and depression, just to name just a few.

Diabetic eye disease can lead to vision loss and blindness. Some of these eye problems include diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and glaucoma. Uncontrolled diabetics are two times more likely to get cataracts and glaucoma than a non-diabetic. The longer a person has uncontrolled diabetes, the more likely they are to get a diabetic eye disease, and retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness in people with uncontrolled diabetes. People with diabetes can slow down or prevent the development of these diseases by keeping their blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol under control and having regular comprehensive dilated eye exams at least once a year. Pregnant women with diabetes should see their eye doctor as soon as possible and all through their pregnancy. For more information, contact the PHS optical office at (269) 783-2460 or see your eye doctor.

Oral health problems related to diabetes include gum disease, thrush, and slower healing after surgery. Periodontal disease increases with uncontrolled diabetes and young adults with diabetes are about twice as likely to get gum disease than those without diabetes. Older adults have gum disease more frequently and severely than those without diabetes. Smoking makes gum disease more severe and frequent, as well. Diabetics with poor blood sugar control are more likely to lose teeth than diabetics with good control. Having controlled blood sugars, a well-balanced diet, and practicing good oral care at home, along with regular dental checkups can reduce the risk of periodontal disease significantly. 

Thrush is a fungal infection which occurs more often in diabetics. It causes white or red patches in the mouth that are sore and may become ulcers. This can make it difficult to swallow and can dull your sense of taste. Regular oral hygiene can help keep thrush in check. Uncontrolled diabetics also have a longer healing time after surgeries, including a tooth pull or other oral surgery. For more information, contact the PHS dental office at (269) 782-4141 and schedule an exam.

Studies show that there is a link between diabetes and depression. Current research suggests that diabetes increases your risk of depression and may make symptoms of depression worse. The stress of managing diabetes every day and the effects of uncontrolled diabetes on the brain may contribute to depression. In the U.S., diabetics are twice as likely to have depression than those without diabetes. Contact PHS Behavioral Health at (269) 782-4141 for more information or if you would like help.