Did you know that 37.3 million, or about 1 in 10 Americans have diabetes?
In fact, 1 in 5 people doesn’t even know they have it. With these staggering figures, it’s safe to say that most people know someone with diabetes.
It’s been over a hundred years since the discovery of this dreaded disease. What’s alarming is people are now developing diabetes at a relatively younger age and at a higher rate.
One of the most significant impacts diabetes has on people’s health is with regard to wound healing which is why it’s crucial to understand how it affects the process.
How does diabetes affect wound healing?
Diabetes comes about when the body is unable to create or use insulin, making it difficult for the body to effectively use glucose. Since the disease is considered a multisystem disorder, it can systematically delay the wound healing process.
One of the effects of an uncontrolled blood sugar level is its impact on the nerves which can lead to a lack of sensation. This inability to feel injuries can result in further infection which can either worsen or delay wound healing. One of the ways to notice such injuries is through daily skin checking but limited mobility can make it difficult to inspect the most vulnerable areas such as the bottom of your feet.
We all know how important blood circulation is to the wound healing process. As blood vessels narrow, however, wound healing is impaired because the amount of oxygen that reaches the wound and the tissues aren’t enough to make it heal quickly. High blood sugar levels can also affect red blood cell function which is responsible for carrying nutrients to the wound, effectively limiting the white blood cells’ effectiveness in fighting infections.
Inflammation is a crucial stage in the wound healing process, something that lasts a little too long for diabetics making the wound become chronic. This is where the problem lies because the balance between creating and degrading collagen is eliminated in chronic wounds, keeping them from healing in a timely manner.
Immune System inefficiency
Elevated blood sugar levels can also decrease the body’s ability to fight infections. This is because according to research, high blood sugar can compromise the production of enzymes and hormones, effectively impacting immune system function.
With all the effects mentioned, it’s not surprising that high blood sugar levels or diabetes can lead to increased infection. With the slow movement of the white blood cells and a less effective immune response, wounds tend to get stuck in the inflammation stage thereby improving the risk of infection. There are also diabetics who are so desensitized by neuropathy that they fail to recognize the gravity of their wounds.
Wound healing in diabetics can be much more difficult than in those who don’t have the disease. It can become slow and make wounds more prone to infection which is why extra special care and attention are required in treating even the most minor wound. Daily self-inspection will definitely go a long way to avoiding further complications that can have serious effects on a person’s overall health.