Diabetes type 2: Dr Zoe Williams discusses high blood sugar risks
The main precursors of heart disease all have one thing in common – they are largely symptomless in the beginning. Like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes operates under the surface and only unleashes its destruction when blood sugar levels are consistently too high – when this happens, the body starts to malfunction.
Some of the most acute symptoms tied to type 2 diabetes fall under the umbrella of diabetic neuropathy.
Diabetic neuropathy is a complication that arises when high blood sugar (glucose) injures nerves throughout your body.
Diabetic neuropathy most often damages nerves in your legs and feet.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are three distinct warning signs of high blood sugar associated with the feet.
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As the health body explains, ulcers, infections, and bone and joint pain are signs of peripheral neuropathy – the most common form of peripheral neuropathy.
Other signs of high blood sugar include:
- Numbness or reduced ability to feel pain or temperature changes
- Tingling or burning sensation
- Sharp pains or cramps
- Increased sensitivity to touch — for some people, even a bedsheet’s weight can be painful.
How to respond
According to the NHS, you should see a GP if you have any of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes or you’re worried you may have a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
“A GP can diagnose diabetes. You’ll need a blood test, which you may have to go to your local health centre for if it cannot be done at your GP surgery,” explains the health body.
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It adds: “The earlier diabetes is diagnosed and treatment started, the better. Early treatment reduces your risk of other health problems.”
What happens next
Following a formal diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, steps must be taken to lower high blood sugar levels.
There are two key components to blood sugar management – diet and exercise.
There’s technically nothing you cannot eat if you have type 2 diabetes, but you’ll have to limit certain foods.
Carbohydrates are the worst culprits because they are broken down into blood sugar (glucose) relatively fast, thereby causing a spike in blood sugar.
Evidence shows that the quality of the carbohydrates is more important to general health than the amount we eat, however.
The glycaemic index (GI) is a rating system for foods containing carbohydrates. It shows how quickly each food affects your blood sugar (glucose) level when that food is eaten on its own.
Carbohydrate foods that are broken down quickly by your body and cause a rapid increase in blood glucose have a high GI rating.
High GI foods include:
- Sugar and sugary foods
- Sugary soft drinks
- White bread
- White rice.
Low or medium GI foods are broken down more slowly and cause a gradual rise in blood sugar levels over time.
- Some fruit and vegetables
- Wholegrain foods, such as porridge oats.
Physical exercise helps lower your blood sugar level – you should aim for 2.5 hours of activity a week, adds the NHS.
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