The white matter is the area of the brain responsible for information processing and memory. A loss of white matter can severely undermine a person’s cognitive functions and cause mental decline.
In a 2007 study published in Diabetologia, patients who had Type 1 diabetes underwent a neuropsychological check-up and their brain tissues were taken for examination.
They showed reduced white matter in the brain and performed poorly on design/drawing tests, as well as processed information more slowly.
Type 2 diabetes also affects the person’s mental abilities severely and may hamper their ability to perform cognitive functions. It may cause cerebrovascular disease and vascular cognitive impairment over time.
Cerebrovascular disease obstructs blood flow to the brain. Persistent high blood pressure damages and narrows the blood vessels supplying blood to the brain over time, causing this disease.
When high blood pressure narrows the vessels, it could also cause a mini-stroke or a major stroke. High blood pressure can also rupture the blood vessels, causing a brain hemorrhage.
Vascular cognitive impairment is an Alzheimer’s-like condition that greatly undermines memory, problem solving, and information processing and retention abilities.
High blood sugar also takes a toll on your oral health. Diabetes reduces the person’s ability to fight infections, exposing them to a horde of mouth disorders.
People with diabetes are at a high risk of the following:
- Tooth decay and cavities: The mouth is a bacterial hub, which interacts with the high blood sugar to form plaque (a yellow coating on the teeth). Plaque erodes the enamel (protective layer) of the teeth, leading to decay and cavities.
- Gingivitis (early gum disease): Diabetes undermines the body’s ability to ward off bacteria. This, combined with poor oral hygiene, allows the plaque to persist and eventually harden. This irritates the gingival (gum-area beneath the bottom of the teeth) and may lead to swelling and bleeding.
- Periodontitis: This is the advanced form of gingivitis. It damages the bone and tissue that support the teeth, causing them to fall out.
Diabetics may also develop burning mouth syndrome and oral thrush (white patches on the tongue).
The eyes are one of the most sensitive organs of your body.
People with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes face a high risk of contracting blindness, according to a 2015 study published in the British Medical Journal.
Diabetes can cause several eye disorders that can have debilitating and irreversible repercussions.
- Diabetic retinopathy: High blood sugar damages the blood vessels in the retina, a tissue that is located at the back of the eye. This can cause vision damage, vision loss and blindness.
- Diabetic macular edema: This usually occurs after retinopathy and is the most common cause of vision loss. In macular edema, a fluid fills up in a part of the retina called the macula that enables straight-vision crucial to reading, writing, driving and identifying faces.
- Cataracts: In this disorder, the natural lens of the eye becomes cloudy. It is the most common cause of blindness, and usually occurs in people 40 years of age and above. People with diabetes are at a 2 to 4 times higher risk of developing cataracts than those without the underlying disorder.
- Glaucoma: This disorder is characterized by a pressure buildup on the optic nerve that connects the eye to the brain, which eventually damages it. It can destroy vision permanently.