Diabetes adversely impairs the human body's response to fight infection. As diabetes is indicative of high blood sugar or glucose, the body tissues of a diabetic patient have higher concentrations of sugar and consequently facilitate faster bacterial growth. This in turn leads to infections arising quickly in diabetic patients. Some of these infections could occur in the skin, gums, limbs, organs and kidneys.
According to World Health Organization estimates, more than 143 million people worldwide have diabetes, and this figure is expected to reach 220 million by the year 2020. More than 18.2 million people in the US have diabetes while several million more probably have the disease but remain unaware and undiagnosed. While diabetes afflicts mostly people over 60 years of age in developed countries, people in developing countries are afflicted with the disease even in their youth. This alarming spurt in the incidence of diabetes makes it all the more important for us to be aware of diabetes related infections and diseases that could possibly arise.
Apart from the propensity of diabetics to get infections, it is also true that the type of infections in patients with diabetes mellitus is very complex. Some of these common infections include:
Foot infections: Foot infections in diabetics arise due to a variety of factors including hyperglycemia, peripheral vascular disease, and neuropathy. Diabetic patients with one or more of these factors tend to have wounds that do not heal fast enough, and if not treated properly could result in gangrene. So if you are a diabetic with a wound that refuses to heal consult your doctor immediately.
Urinary tract infections: People with diabetes have lower resistance to fight infections as the reaction of their white blood cells to disease is impaired as compared to that of non-diabetics. As a result, if urinary tract infection sets in, it is likely to aggravate further in the case of a diabetic. Furthermore, as diabetes has an adverse effect on small blood vessels in the body, the amount of blood that the tissues get is further diminished thereby debilitating the human body's ability to fight bacteria. Therefore if you are a diabetic with urinary tract infection, consult your doctor immediately and get treated effectively and prevent the infection from traveling its way up to the kidneys.
Diabetes could have an impact on your life too, as diabetics are prone to yeast and other fungus infections of the bladder and urethra which could pass on to partners having unprotected . All the same it is fairly easy to get cured from yeast infections arising due to diabetes.
A link between diabetes and enteroviral infection has been noted in children with Type-I diabetes. In children having diabetes it could start off as a common cold or even as encephalitis. So in the case of children having diabetes, any suspected infection should be promptly diagnosed and treated.
Recent studies, including research conducted at the University of Alberta have indicated that people suffering from Type 2 diabetes have double the risk of getting a stroke as compared to non-diabetics. Even more worrying is the finding that younger people with diabetes are more prone to strokes than the elderly.
Diabetes also causes nerve damage, a condition referred to as diabetic neuropathy, which is essentially a disease of the small blood vessels, wherein the nerves get limited blood flow as a result of which they get damaged. Numbness, aching of the feet and lower extremities are common symptoms of diabetic neuropathy or diabetic nerve damage.
There are some infections that occur principally in diabetic patients and not others. In other words diabetics are more likely to get these infections more than non-diabetics. Some of these infections are:
Invasive Otitis Externa: This is a rare invasive fungal infection, possibly life threatening that causes irreversible hearing impairment.
Rhinocerebral Mucormycosis: A fungus induced infection of the sinuses.
Cholecystitis: Inflammation in the gall bladder when the cystic duct gets blocked by a gallstone.
Recognizing the symptoms of infections arising due to diabetes is important, as that would help the treatment regimen to be effective. If you are a diabetic and if you have any of these symptoms, consult your doctor or healthcare provider promptly:
1. Any wound that doesn't heal.
2. Red or draining sore and skin rashes.
3. Sore throat accompanied with pain on swallowing.
4. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.
5. Flu like symptoms with fever over 101 F.
6. Pain and burning sensation while urinating and vaginal itching.
7. Patchy white spots in mouth and tongue.
8. Dry cough lasting for several days.
9. Nasal congestion with tenderness on upper cheekbones.
10. Urge to urinate frequently with/without blood in urine; and cloudy, foul swelling urine.
The list of symptoms enumerated above does not necessarily constitute the entire list of symptoms arising due to infections in diabetics. There could be many more other symptoms, and if you notice anything out of the ordinary consult your physician immediately.