If my A1c stays high for too long, what happens to my body?
Is your A1c staying high? When your A1c stays high you risk damage to your entire body. Everyone talks about the importance of blood sugar testing but, you don’t hear much about A1c testing. I’m shocked by how important having a normal A1c number is.
My family has many complications from Type 2 diabetes. My grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins had major health problems from Type 2 Diabetes.
Their A1c numbers, even with medication, never got back to the normal range.
- My Grandfather had his leg amputated, starting at the foot, then at the knee, and then at his hip. He did not survive the last surgery. He died at the age of 63. He had Type 2 Diabetes.
- Out of his 8 children, all of them developed Type 2 Diabetes (T2D), including my father.
- My beloved aunt died of complications from Type 2 Diabetes and breast cancer treatment.
- My uncle died from the horrible effects that Type 2 Diabetes had on his body. His quality of life was terrible. He “lived” until after the age of 70 with medications that did nothing to heal the underlying issues.
- That uncle’s 2 sons both died of complications from Type 2 Diabetes.
- One son, who was never at a heavier weight and was actually slender his entire life, lost his eyesight, and then died of organ failure.
- The other son lost his job as a trucker because of a leg amputation, and then he also lost his eyesight. He passed away as an angry and sad man.
- ALL my other aunts and uncles on my father’s side had high blood sugar levels. They ALL passed away before the age of 70, except one. She is still alive but is on over 25 medications to survive.
I am not writing this to add to any sadness. This was a huge wake-up call for me! When my own lab tests came back showing that my A1c was in the pre-diabetic range I made changes! My fasting blood glucose level was also elevated and I knew it was time to make big decisions.
If your A1c is between 5.7% and 6.4%, you will have less organ damage…for now. If your number is over 6.4%, your organs will have already taken some damage1.
Do not despair though! Type 2 diabetes is completely reversible.
When your A1c stays high you are at risk! It’s important to understand what kind of damage can happen with an A1c level over 5.7%.
People who have diabetes tend to have high blood glucose levels. Over time, this can cause damage to the blood vessels and nerves. These nerves control the heart. this damage leads to heart disease.
Sadly, the longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to develop heart disease.
Did you know that if you have diabetes you are twice as likely to die from heart disease?
What kind of heart disease? All kinds:
- Coronary Artery Disease (also known as the buildup of plaque in the walls of the arteries)
- Heart Attacks
- High Blood Pressure
- Too much “bad” cholesterol
- High triglycerides
- Congestive Heart Failure
Did you know that over time elevated blood sugar levels can cause blindness? High blood glucose levels damage the tiny blood vessels of the eye. This damage starts during prediabetes.
This is why you can not ignore a prediabetes diagnosis!
There is even a name for this condition: Diabetic Eye Disease.
These disease names include:
- diabetic retinopathy
- diabetic macular edema (fluid retention in the retina
- Cataracts and Glaucoma
- Vision Loss
I don’t know about you, but my eye doctor never mentioned prediabetes or diabetes to me during an eye exam!
Nerve Damage (and the reason my relatives had their feet and legs amputated!):
High blood sugar causes damage to nerves leading to a range of problems. Problems no one wants to have to face.
How would you know if you are having these problems?
Nerve damage can cause numbness, pain, or even difficulty with certain tasks. Tasks like operating heavy machinery, aka DRIVING a CAR can become difficult. Half of all people who have diabetes will experience some form of nerve damage as a result.
HALF of all people!
What happens when your nerves take damage?
- Peripheral nerve damage: This is one most people have heard of. Also, this is what affected my family members.
You will hear about this complication for many people with diabetes. Peripheral means at the extremities, so this can affect your hands, feet, legs, and arms. The main symptoms are numbness or tingling. It also causes difficulties in feeling heat or pain from any kind of injury.
- Autonomic nerve damage: Your autonomic nervous system is in charge of your heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, digestion, and sexual arousal. You may hear about people with Type 2 Diabetes who have had issues with one or more of these areas. Did you know that many people with issues in those organs have undiagnosed Type 2 Diabetes? Without treatment and lifestyle changes, these organs are ALL affected by this at one point or another.
- Proximal nerve damage: This is when the nerves in the areas closer to your torso take damage. The affected areas are the thighs, hips, buttocks, legs, stomach, and chest area.
- Focal nerve damage2: This is when single nerves take damage. Most often this happens in your hand, head, leg, or torso.
The list of what happens to your body if your A1c stays high does not end here.
1 in 3 adults with diabetes will also have a kidney disease! This is a terrible statistic.
Remember above where we talk about high blood sugar damaging blood vessels? We said that high blood glucose levels cause heart and eye damage. Well, high blood sugar also damages the blood vessels in the kidneys. Diabetes also can cause high blood pressure, which can lead to kidney damage.
Due to the sugars in the saliva, something that goes along with high blood sugar, gum disease can develop.
I bet you never heard your dentist tell you to have your blood sugars checked.
That would have been helpful when they told you that you had one of the following:
- Gingivitis (unhealthy or inflamed gums)
- Periodontitis (aka periodontal disease, aka fancy word for gum disease)
- Thrush (oral yeast infection)
- Dry Mouth
- Oral Burning
When I realized ALL the damage that high blood sugar levels cause I knew I had to make changes.
Even a “sort of high” A1c can do major damage to the body!
I don’t know about you, but, I immediately started on a better way of eating, and am seeing a difference already!
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