10 Little-Known Diabetes Facts You Must Know About

by Yolande D'Mello

It’s a common misconception to associate diabetes with other lifestyle diseases. Many are misinformed to believe that this metabolic disease is restricted to the upper class and linked to indulgent food habits.

However, two-thirds of the diabetic population comes from developing nations in Asia, the Middle-East, and Africa. Only five percent of these are diagnosed with Type I diabetes as many people don’t even know that they’re suffering from it because the symptoms go unnoticed or misdiagnosed.

We spoke to Dr Robert S Rosenberg, Sleep Medicine Physician and author of Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day and chiropractic physician, Dr Scott Schreiber, who specializes in clinical nutrition and rehabilitation, to explore some lesser-known facts about diabetes.

They list 10 facts about diabetes that are not so common:

1. Diabetes Can Cause Blindness
If diabetes isn’t treated, in severe cases, it can cause blindness.  It occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the cells at the back of the eye (known as the retina). It’s important for people with the disease to have their eyes examined once a year for signs of damage. Diabetic retinopathy, or diabetic eye disease, can be prevented if caught it time.

2. Diabetes Can Give You Sleep Disorders & Vice Versa
Diabetes may lead to issues with sleep, but sleep disorders can also lead to diabetes. According to Rosenberg, “Sleeping six hours or less each night can cause a craving for high-calorie carbohydrates. This leads to weight gain and insulin resistance, both of which are major causes of diabetes. Even more pronounced is the impact of sleep apnea on diabetes.”

Sleep apnea can worsen, or even cause diabetes. Fragmented sleep from not being able to breathe properly at night can cause a decrease in insulin production. Sleep apnea also causes an increase in the production of cortisol, a hormone which raises blood sugar.

Moreover, if you have a pre-existing sleep condition such as insomnia or sleep apnea, you may be at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes. When your body is lacking quality sleep, you crave more sugary, fatty foods to give you a quick fix of energy. These cravings paired with a slower metabolism resulting from sleep deprivation can cause you to gain weight as your body develops a resistance to insulin, which leads to diabetes.

3.Diabetes Slows The Healing Process
An elevated blood sugar level stiffens the arteries and causes narrowing of the blood vessels, which leads to decreased blood flow and oxygen to a wound. High blood sugar levels also hamper the functioning of red blood cells that carry nutrients to the tissue. This lowers the efficiency of the white blood cells which play a role in fighting an infection. A lack of sufficient nutrients and oxygen slows down the wound healing process.

4. Diabetes Can Cause Complications During Pregnancy
Diabetes does bring along unnecessary challenges to an expecting mother. If you have poor blood sugar control, extra glucose can cross the placenta and stimulate your baby’s pancreas to make extra insulin, which can cause your baby to grow too big (macrosomia). A large baby makes vaginal delivery difficult and puts him at risk of injury during birth.

5. Diabetes Can Be Managed At Home With Onions
Onion is not just a wonder drug, it’s an all-natural solution to lower cholesterol. Lead researcher Anthony Ojieh, who presented his findings in the Natural Society’s journal, gave anti-diabetic drug Metformin and varying doses of onion extract to three groups of rats with induced diabetes to find out if it would enhance the effects of the drug in controlling the condition.

The team discovered that 400 and 600mg doses of onion extract per day improved the reduction of fasting blood sugar levels by as much as 50 percent above and beyond what Metformin alone could do.

6. Diabetes Can Present A Few Hidden Symptoms As Well
Increased blood sugar is just a symptom of diabetes, it’s not the disease itself. The cause of diabetes is insulin resistance and the result of that problem is increased blood sugar. Something as trifling as dizziness can also be a symptom. Most people, however, brush aside these sure giveaways and just blame the condition on growing older.

7. Diabetes Can Hamper Your Sex Life
According to studies, up to 50 percent men and 25 percent women may experience some kind of sexual problems or a loss of sexual desire as a result of diabetes. This is due to nerve damage called diabetic neuropathy. One way it affects men is by damaging the erectile tissue, which makes it difficult for a man to attain or sustain an erection.

8. Diabetes Is Reversible
It can be reversed in as little as three weeks depending on the case. This happens in virtually all patients who undergo bariatric surgery and it’s because of the forced fasting episode that it causes. You can take advantage of this in patients (without having to go for surgery) by using intermittent fasting to reverse diabetes. Also, a vegan diet has been shown to lower blood sugar faster than a conventional diabetic diet.

9. Diabetic Patients Should Steer Clear Of Alcohol
While moderate amounts of alcohol can cause blood sugar levels to rise, excess alcohol can actually decrease them—sometimes causing it to drop to dangerous levels.

10. Diabetes Can Develop During Pregnancy
When a woman is pregnant, hormone changes can increase the blood sugar levels, which could lead to gestational diabetes. It affects the baby, too, since the baby gets nutrients from the mother’s blood. The baby stores that extra sugar as fat, which can make him grow larger than normal. In most cases, after giving birth, the pregnancy hormones and the blood sugar levels subside, alleviating diabetes in the process.

For more interesting stories, visit our Health page. Read more about Diseases & Conditions here.

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