The immune system is vital for the body’s defense against bacteria, viruses, cancer cells, and parasites the body encounters. If the immune system is deficient, it affects the body’s ability to fight off infections. A compromised immune system is a sign of several disorders.
There are primary immunodeficiency disorders that you can be born with such as X-linked agammaglobulinemia (XLA) and common variable immunodeficiency (CVID). Secondary immunodeficiency disorders occur when the body is attacked by an outside factor like a chemical or infection. Causes of a secondary immunodeficiency disorder are chemotherapy, radiation, malnutrition, and diabetes (which relates to high blood sugar levels). Examples of secondary immunodeficiency disorders are AIDS, immune system cancers such as leukemia, viral hepatitis, and multiple myeloma (cancer of the plasma cells).
If you get conjunctivitis (pinkeye), colds, pneumonia, bronchitis, yeast infections, or sinus infections that don’t respond to treatment, something is wrong. Even if they respond to treatment but recur as soon as you stop taking medication, it is a sign your immune system is compromised. If you suspect that your immune system is not coping and may be deficient, see your doctor. Your doctor will take a full medical history, do a physical exam, test your white blood cell and T cell counts, and check your immunoglobin levels.
High blood sugar levels affect how your immune system works. The inflammation in the cells from too much glucose in the blood prevents oxygen and the necessary defense cells from reaching the infection. Since the soldiers can’t reach the battlefield, the enemy has time to take hold and spread its control. In wounds, this can lead to fungal infections such as gangrene taking hold, resulting in amputations.
Itching is a common diabetes symptom, and diabetes is associated with high blood sugar levels. People with diabetes are more likely to experience itching skin than those who don’t have it. If you have high blood sugar levels or suspect you might, do not ignore your itchy skin. Left untreated, high blood sugar levels are dangerous, and the damage done to your skin from the itching could be serious.
Damaged nerve fibers at the skin’s surface caused by too much glucose in the blood could cause itchy skin. This condition is called neuropathy. It’s possible that the itching is signaling that nerve damage is not yet done but is about to happen. When neuropathy starts, the body releases cytokines. These inflammatory substances cause itching of the skin. This indicates the risk of imminent nerve damage and requires the intervention of a doctor. Itchy skin can also be the result of eczema, psoriasis, sunburn, or athlete’s foot.
Look out for itching in the lower extremities as a sign of neuropathy. The itching may be experienced all over the body. It makes clothes uncomfortable, is constant, and can keep you awake at night. Scratching your skin until it bleeds places you at further risk if your high blood sugar levels have compromised your immune system. The skin won’t heal and will be susceptible to infection.
Treat itchy skin with lotions straight after bathing. Make sure that you are not allergic or sensitive to the products you are using as this will cause itching. If itchy skin is the result of high blood sugar levels, management of the condition through diet or medications will ease the itching.
14. You may experience numbness or pain in your extremities
Poor circulation affects your hands and fingers more than any other body parts. When you have too much sugar in your blood, it thickens and moves more slowly. That, coupled with the damage that high blood sugar levels cause to the blood vessels, compromises your circulatory system. Blood vessels narrow from the inflammation which makes it even harder for the thickened blood to move.
Blood is not moving to and from the hands and feet as normal anymore. You’ll experience symptoms such as cold or numb hands and feet, brittle nails, dry or cracked skin, and hair loss on the feet. For paler skinned people, you will notice a blue tint to your hands and feet.
The consequences of numbness in the extremities due to high blood sugar levels can be dire. You could get a small cut or scratch on your foot and not even be aware of it. The fact that your immune system may be deficient due to the high blood sugar levels means that healing will be delayed or won’t occur at all. The lack of circulation makes it difficult for the immune system to even respond to the injury.
An infection may take hold. Fungal infections can lead to gangrene. So, can necrosis, which is the premature death of the cells due to a lack of blood. If gangrene is not treated early, it can result in amputation to prevent it from spreading. In addition to various other health benefits, exercise lowers the blood sugar levels. This allows blood to move more easily to the extremities. The fact that your heart rate increases during exercise stimulate your circulation system as well.
Men with high blood sugar levels often experience erectile dysfunction. This is a very sensitive subject, which most men won’t broach. But if you have developed this problem, you need to see your doctor for advice. High blood sugar levels thicken the blood and damage the blood vessels. This can affect the blood supply to the penis and affect the ability to obtain and sustain an erection. This can be frustrating for the man and his partner. It can lead to depression and other mood disorders.
Seeing a doctor is important. He/she will investigate the underlying causes of your erectile dysfunction. It can be related to high blood sugar levels, but heart disease, high blood pressure, or elevated cholesterol levels are also causes. If you have high blood sugar levels, maintain a healthy diet and exercise program to lower your blood sugar levels and prevent nerve damage. Counseling to address the stress and anxiety that comes with erectile dysfunction is also recommended. If necessary, your doctor will prescribe medicine for you.
For women, high blood sugar levels can affect their chances of falling pregnant. High sugar levels affect hormone levels in the body. Any disruption to the delicate balance of hormones in the body can prevent pregnancy. After prolonged high blood sugar levels, the body may develop insulin resistance. This will affect her body’s ability to ovulate. It also affects the ability of the egg to attach to the uterus after fertilization. Women with high blood sugar levels are also vulnerable to yeast infections which can prevent the sperm from reaching the egg.
For women planning to fall pregnant, it is vital to make sure your blood sugar levels are not high. If they are, you need to take steps to keep them under control to improve your chances of falling pregnant.
If you notice your breath has a fruity smell, it’s a possible pre-cursor to diabetes and indicates that your blood sugar is dangerously high. There are two blood sugar-related causes of a fruity smelling breath.
The first is Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA). This is a life-threatening condition and needs urgent medical intervention. It is triggered by the body’s production of high levels of ketones. These blood acids normally occur in the body. But high blood sugar levels can trigger an overproduction of ketones. This can be fatal if left untreated. If treated immediately, DKA has no lasting effects on the body.
But with no treatment, it can cause permanent damage to the body. It is a rare occurrence. But if you have high blood sugar and are not being treated for it, DKA may follow. The symptoms of DKA include stomach pain, nausea, fever, vomiting, and fatigue. When DKA progresses to its end stages, the person will go into a coma. About 31% of cases that include symptoms of fruity breath turn out to be DKA.
The second is Hyperglycemic Hyperosmolar Syndrome (Hhs). This is a serious condition that will manifest in a person living with Type 2 diabetes. It is characterized by fatigue, nausea, vomiting, frequent urination, and a fruity odor on the breath. It is not a common condition but is dangerous due to its rapid onset. If a person displays the symptoms of HHS, emergency medical care is necessary to avoid lasting complications or even death.
About 34% of cases that include signs of fruity breath turn out to be Hhs. The remaining cause of a fruity odor on the breath is liver failure. This is the case in about 34% of instances where people report fruity smelling breath as one of their symptoms.
A high fever is an indication that something is wrong in the body. One of the things that it could indicate is high blood sugar. Or, if you have high blood sugar, a fever can exacerbate it.
A high fever may be a sign of high blood sugar, as it shows a weakness in the immune system. The immune system is designed to help the body fight off an infection or illness. A healthy immune system prevents you from getting sick. If you have high blood sugar, your body’s immune system is compromised. High blood sugar and diabetes are autoimmune disorders. The body is attacking itself. No germ causes the blood sugar to rise. It’s a malfunction in the body that prevents it from being metabolized.
The immune system becomes so preoccupied with trying to deal with the high levels of sugar in the blood that an opportunistic infection can take hold. Bacteria and other germs like viruses sneak in and cause infections that result in high fevers.
Fever and dehydration cause a vicious cycle. When you have a fever, you dehydrate. Dehydration can lead to the worsening of a fever. If your blood sugar is high, you get very thirsty. As much as you drink, you lose because it’s eliminated from the body as urine. The possibility of dehydration is very real. A urinary tract is a place where people with high blood sugar and diabetes often experience infections. Other common places opportunistic infections may take hold are the vagina, gums, feet, and skin.
Any fever of 101F is an indication of a severe problem. If you have a family history of high blood sugar levels, it’s worthwhile to be tested. A doctor treating an extreme fever should check your blood sugar as a matter of routine.
There is a causal relationship between high blood sugar levels and stroke. People with high blood sugar conditions such as diabetes and pre-diabetes are 2-4 times more likely to suffer a stroke. High blood sugar levels indicate that the body is unable to metabolize or break these sugars down. A hormone called insulin allows glucose to enter the cells. Insulin comes from the pancreas. When there is a problem with insulin production, it leads to problems with blood sugar levels. The glucose cannot enter the cells and give them energy. Instead, it remains in the blood.
As time passes, this accumulation of sugar in the blood can damage the blood vessels. These are the veins and arteries that the blood travels through during circulation. Fatty deposits and clots can form in the blood vessels due to the elevated blood sugar levels. When the fatty deposits become big enough, they can block a vein or artery. This deprives the brain of oxygen which results in a stroke. Alternatively, a clot may dislodge from the wall of a vein or artery and pass through the brain.
The consequences of a stroke can be paralysis or loss of specific brain and body functions. This can be temporary. In a lot of cases, however, it becomes permanent. This can have a profound effect on the sufferer’s quality of life.
If your doctor identifies that you are at risk of a stroke, it’s a good idea to test your blood sugar. It can be contributing to the rising chance of having a stroke. Risk factors for a stroke include high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and obesity in addition to high blood glucose levels. Other risk factors that can cause a stroke are smoking, drinking, and an unhealthy diet and lifestyle.
High blood sugar levels can cause heart disease. If you start to experience the symptoms of heart disease, the chances of your blood sugar levels being elevated are high. Different symptoms tell you there’s something wrong with your heart. One of them is pain and discomfort in the chest. It means the heart is having problems with blood supply. Other symptoms of heart disease include nausea, stomach aches, heartburn, and indigestion.
Dizziness and lightheartedness are also indicators that your heart is struggling to function properly. A person with heart disease is permanently fatigued and struggles to gather enough energy even to do the simple things in life. They feel breathless because the heart is unable to supply enough oxygenated blood to the lungs.
High blood sugar levels with other risky behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and unhealthy diet cause blockages in the veins and arteries that lead to and from the heart. When one of them becomes completely blocked, or it contracts, the heart responds by spasming. This is called a heart attack. Even if you don’t have a heart attack, heart disease damages the heart and causes it to malfunction. The heart works harder than normal trying to sustain life and keep the body functioning. This causes the heart to wear out more quickly.
If you have a heart attack, it will spike your blood sugar levels immediately. This is the stress response to the cardiac event. You can improve the health of your heart if you take steps to do so. Changing your habits, especially your eating and exercising habits, can ease a lot of the strain on your heart. A healthy diet lowers the blood sugar levels in your body. If you’re diagnosed with heart disease, you need to take it as seriously as the proverbial heart attack. Otherwise, it may lead to the literal heart attack, which could be avoided.
Elevated blood sugar levels can lead to elevated blood pressure levels (hypertension). High blood pressure is caused by the irregular contraction of the blood vessels which damages them over time. When your blood sugar is too high, it changes the way your blood vessels behave. It makes them contract more than they should. This narrowing of the blood vessels causes the blood pressure to rise. The heightened pressure on the walls of the blood vessels can cause them permanent damage.
It affects the elasticity of the blood vessels. They can become so damaged that they no longer work properly. They could even start to leak, which affects the entire circulatory system. When the blood vessels are damaged, it is hard for them to recover unless the cause of the damage is eliminated. High blood pressure is treated with medication. Patients are, however, expected to change their lifestyles as well. Those who smoke and drink are advised to stop. Healthy exercise patterns are encouraged.
Another major contributor to high blood pressure is stress. Stress management techniques are advised so that patients can learn to manage stress without letting affect them physically. One of the things a doctor will look at is the blood sugar levels of someone with high blood pressure. Eliminating high blood sugar levels can help to reduce blood pressure.
Left untreated, blood pressure can lead to heart attacks or strokes. It can have fatal consequences if not addressed. Keeping your blood sugar levels under control can go a long way toward keeping your blood pressure levels within the normal range. It also prevents a diagnosis of diabetes which is a lifelong condition that needs ongoing management and treatment.