What Causes High Blood Sugar And What Harm Can It Do To My Body?

Dr. Edelman answers the question: 'What Causes High Blood Sugar?'

ByABC News
November 9, 2007, 11:42 AM

— -- Question: What causes high blood sugar and what harm can it do to my body?

Answer: Diabetes is a condition where the glucose or sugar levels are too high in the blood. Now, there are many reasons why the blood sugar levels get too high in people with diabetes, but I will only mention the two main defects now.

The first is that the pancreas which is an important endocrine organ in our bodies does not secrete enough insulin. Insulin is the hormone that helps glucose go from the bloodstream into the cells of our body to be used for energy.

A complicated condition called insulin-resistance is the second main cause of diabetes. Insulin-resistance, which occurs primarily in type 2 diabetes, is when the cells of our body are resistant to the glucose-lowering effects of insulin. If an individual has either not enough insulin and/or insulin-resistance, then high blood sugar levels or diabetes will be present.

High blood sugar levels if untreated will cause short-term effects and long-term complications. High blood sugar levels over the short term do not cause any damage to the organs of your body, however they will cause you to feel tired and weak, be thirsty, and urinate a lot, be susceptible to infections and have blurry vision. In fact in the elderly, high blood sugar levels can lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and lead to falls and of course we know getting a broken hip as an elderly individual can be pretty devastating.

Now high blood sugar levels over the long term, lets just say years, that can lead to the classic chronic complications of diabetes, eye disease or what we call retinopathy that leads to blindness, kidney disease or nephropathy leading to kidney failure necessitating either dialysis or transplantation, and nerve disease or neuropathy which commonly leads to amputations. In addition, poorly controlled diabetes over the long term can also contribute to heart disease, along with inadequately controlled cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

Next: What Are The Symptoms Of High Blood Sugar That Might Indicate I Have Diabetes?

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