Wasim H. Raja, MD

What Most People Don't Understand About Diabetes

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You know diabetes has something to do with your blood sugar and insulin, but you may not realize the far-reaching effects of the disease. Here’s a look at the lesser-known facts associated with diabetes.

According to the American Diabetes Foundation, over 37 million Americans have diabetes, and 96 million have prediabetes. Although diabetes is common, the details of the disease aren’t common knowledge. 

Dr. Wasim H. Raja, our board-certified physician here at Orange County Healthcare Center in Fountain Valley, is passionate about helping Southern Californians understand diabetes and all the ways it can affect them, because knowledge is a powerful part of your treatment. 

Here, he explains the diabetes basics and then dives into some of the lesser-known aspects of this chronic condition.

Diabetes basics

Your body needs the hormone insulin to open up your cells and allow them to use the glucose in your blood. Anything that hinders that process can lead to diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when your pancreas doesn’t produce insulin. The glucose stays in your blood and reaches dangerous levels that damage your nerves, blood vessels, and organs.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when your pancreas produces insulin, but your body doesn’t process it properly. 

Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy, putting mother and child in danger and requiring constant monitoring, but it typically goes away after delivery. 

Surprising facts about diabetes

You may know that diabetes involves blood sugar levels and diet, but the disease has some far-reaching effects that surprise many people, even those who’ve been living with the condition for years. Here’s a look at some lesser-known diabetes facts.

Diabetes is stealthy

You may have diabetes and not even know it. Diabetes and prediabetes are notoriously sneaky and often develop without any initial telltale signs unless you know how to spot them. For example, if frequent visits to the bathroom, an unholy level of thirst, extreme fatigue or sleepiness, sudden cravings that just won't quit, uncontrollable hunger, or tingling in your extremities sounds familiar, then get yourself to Orange County Healthcare Center pronto.

Diabetes impacts your overall health

If you experience diabetes symptoms, don’t ignore them. Diabetes doesn’t go away on its own — in fact, it worsens over time and wreaks havoc on your body, affecting nearly every system.

1. Digestion 

If you don’t address diabetes, your high blood sugar can damage the nerves in your digestive system, affecting how your stomach and intestines process food.

2. Eyes

If diabetes damages the nerves in your eyes, especially those that serve your retinas, you may experience blurry vision. Uncontrolled diabetes can even lead to total blindness.

3. Skin

Consistently high blood glucose destroys nerve fibers and blood vessels, leading to dry, thin skin that doesn’t heal well. Slow-healing wounds are classic diabetes symptoms.

4. Teeth

Sugary foods spike your blood glucose, and they also promote plaque buildup on your teeth, leading to tooth decay and gum disease. Once these issues take hold, diabetes hinders the healing process, so infection and decay advance.

5. Heart

High cholesterol is common in people with diabetes. Cholesterol can build up in your arteries and slow or block blood flow, putting you at greater risk for heart disease and stroke. 

Stress worsens diabetes symptoms

It’s tough to skate through life without a little stress, but in today’s fast-paced, constantly “on” world, coupled with looming negative news dominating the media, stress is inescapable — and that’s bad news if you have diabetes. 

Stress increases your blood sugar, even if you’re doing all you can to control it. So, if you lead a high-stress life, it’s best to eliminate the sources you can and learn to manage stress to cope with those you can’t.

Deep breathing exercises, yoga, anger management classes, meditation, and biofeedback are proven ways to lower stress and its effects on your body.

You can prevent diabetes

Once you have diabetes, it’s incurable but manageable. Dr. Raja can prescribe medications and lifestyle changes that enable you to live without too many complications.

However, prediabetes is reversible. If caught early enough, we can help you turn things around so that prediabetes doesn’t cross the line into full-blown diabetes. Some of the key factors are watching your diet and losing weight, and we can help with that too.

Now that you know more about the disease, don’t ignore the signs of diabetes or prediabetes. Contact us online or by calling our friendly staff to schedule a consultation with Dr. Raja and get your condition under control.