5 Shocking Side Effects Of Diabetes
People with diabetes are more likely to develop periodontal disease, an infection of the gum and bone that can lead to painful chewing problems and tooth loss. “This is due in part to elevated blood sugar that modifies the collagen in all of our tissues,” Rodbard says. “It’s also due to a slight increase in susceptibility to infections of all kinds.” The two conditions have been so strongly linked that simply having gum disease may be a sign of future type 2 diabetes. In a Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health study of 9,000 people, those with higher levels of periodontal disease were nearly twice as likely to become diabetic within the next two decades than people without gum disease, even after adjusting for age, smoking, obesity, and diet. Unfortunately, it’s a negative feedback loop: Not only does diabetes make gum disease worse, but gum disease—specifically inflammation of the gums or development of deep abscesses—can raise blood sugar and make diabetes harder to control, according to Hamdy. To prevent periodontitis, brush and floss daily and consider using a mild antiseptic mouthwash such as Listerine to knock out any lingering plaque.
Up to 75% of men with diabetes will experience some level of erectile dysfunction in their lifetime, according to the American Diabetes Association. “Erectile dysfunction can be psychological or due to reduced testosterone,” Hamdy says, noting that low testosterone is common among people with diabetes, especially if they’re obese. “However, in patients with a long duration of diabetes, changes in blood vessels and nerve supply to the penis could be the cause.” If you have diabetes, are over age 40, and have been having trouble with your male equipment, see your doctor to get your serum total and your free testosterone levels checked. If both are normal, Hamdy suggests looking at other causes related to blood vessels and nerve supply. Middle-aged and older women with diabetes also tend to have sexual issues, according to a 2012 study of nearly 2,300 women published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, likely because nerve damage can impair lubrication and the ability to achieve orgasm.
While we all tend to lose some hearing as we age, hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes as in the general population, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. Even in people with prediabetes—a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes—the rate of hearing loss is 30% higher than average. Diabetes may lead to hearing loss by damaging the small blood vessels in the inner ear, the same way it impairs blood vessels in the eyes and kidneys, the study authors suggest. The best way to protect your hearing is to keep your blood sugar levels in check, Rodbard says. In fact, in a 2012 study from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, older women with uncontrolled diabetes had more hearing loss than women the same age who had well-controlled diabetes, though the protective effect did not seem to hold true for men.