Most people know that diabetes affects parts of the body including the nerves, the kidneys, the eyes and feet. However, there are other co-morbidities of diabetes that are not as well known, but can similarly impact a patient’s health. Here is a summary of those:
• Autopsies have revealed damage to nerves and blood vessels of the inner ear in humans with diabetes.
• Data analysis of the NHANES data from 1999-2004 showed that diabetes more than doubles the rate of hearing loss. Also, the severity of hearing loss increases with the progression of diabetes.
• Tips to ensure that you are able to hear all your provider has to say:
o If you cannot hear let the provider know
o Ask the provider to speak clearly, but normally
o Sit close to the provider and ask them to face you directly
• Periodontal disease is associated with poorer glycemic control and people with diabetes who have poor glycemic control are at higher risk of periodontitis.
• People with diabetes need to make dental screenings a priority in their healthcare.
• Some of the reasons to speak with your doctor are if:
o You cannot consume food due to mouth pain
o You have obvious facial swelling
o You have complaints of recurrent mouth ulcers, etc.
• People with diabetes have a higher incidence of bone fracture compared to the general population.
• The reason for this is not yet clear, but researchers have found that those with diabetes for 5 years or more have the lowest bone mineral density (BMD).
• While a low BMD is found in patient with Type 1 Diabetes, in patients with Type 2 Diabetes a higher BMD is found. However, this is not necessarily protective against fractures.
• Some theories include:
o Impaired vitamin D metabolism with kidney disease and decreased blood supply to the bone
o Increase in falls due to impaired eyesight and decreased balance related to neuropathies
• Bottom line: achieve adequate calcium and vitamin D, blood glucose control, and talk with your doctor regarding the risk of osteoporosis and diabetes.
Jackie is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition from Tufts University. She has a passion for cooking, food and physical activity.
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