While diabetes poses a critical health challenge to our community, it's a challenge we can overcome together. Proactive health management and community support are key to living a healthy, vibrant life despite diabetes. This Diabetes Awareness Month, we turn our focus to understanding how diabetes can impact different parts of the body as well as how it can affect mental health.
Because high blood sugar levels damage the heart, people with diabetes are more likely to have heart disease or strokes. For African Americans, who already face a higher risk for hypertension, the added challenge of diabetes can lead to more severe complications like heart attacks and vascular diseases.
Diabetes can slowly harm your eyes and can even make you blind over time. The most common eye problem for working adults with diabetes is diabetic retinopathy, which occurs when elevated blood sugar levels harm the retina's blood vessels. Along with diabetic retinopathy, diabetics may also develop macular edema, cataracts, and glaucoma, all of which can lead to vision loss.
Diabetes can lead to unique skin problems, particularly in African Americans, with conditions like diabetic dermopathy and acanthosis nigricans, which cause tan or brown patches on the body. These patches often show up in places like the neck, armpits, and other joints and are more common in those who are overweight.
People with diabetes have a higher chance of feeling anxious than those without it, largely because handling diabetes every day can be really stressful. When these feelings get too heavy, they're called diabetes distress, and they can make someone want to give up on healthy habits or skip doctor visits.
Diabetes does not have to dictate the future of one’s health. Proactive health management and community support are key to living a healthy, vibrant life despite diabetes. For Black/African American residents of Montgomery County, AAHP is here to guide you through the complexities of diabetes management. Learn more about AAHP’s diabetes-focused programs here: https://aahpmontgomerycounty.org/diabetes-and-heart-health/