High blood sugar levels can impact your health in a variety of ways, whether you have diabetes, prediabetes or just want to cut your risk of a future diagnosis, it’s important to keep your blood sugar levels in check. Here are six unexpected ways high blood sugar levels can adversely impact your health.
#1 Cardiovascular Disease
High blood sugar levels increase the production of free radicals, highly reactive molecules that cause premature cell death and reduce the availability of nitric oxide, a compound that’s needed for blood vessels to relax and allow blood to flow freely despite plaque buildup.
#2 Sexual Dysfunction
With high blood sugar levels, the same factors that decrease blood flow to the heart reduce blood circulation to the sexual organs. While they have been less studied, sexual issues are also common in women with chronically high blood sugar levels, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Side effects such as vaginal dryness, low levels of sexual interest and difficulty reaching orgasm can occur.
#3 Cognitive Decline
In recent years, we have begun to call Alzheimer’s disease diabetes of the brain,” Primack says. Others have called it Type 3 diabetes. Either way, the link between high blood sugar and cognitive decline is strong, no matter your diabetes diagnosis.
#4 Bone And Joint Problems
Most people have heard of diabetic neuropathy, in which chronically high blood sugar levels damage nerve cells throughout the body, leading to a pins-and-needles sensation and even numbness in the hands, feet, arms and legs. But here’s a lesser-known fact: This nerve damage can also deteriorate the body’s joints.
#5 Kidney Disease
By damaging blood vessels in the kidneys, chronically high blood sugar levels can also reduce kidney function and contribute to renal disease. The longer someone has diabetes, and the longer that diabetes goes uncontrolled, the greater the risk of resulting kidney disease.
Emerging research suggests that blood sugar levels may be a far greater depressant than taking blood sugar readings and insulin shots. The study also found that high sugar levels alter connections between regions of the brain that control emotion, potentially contributing to mental health issues.