Protect your body from diabetes

Diabetes can affect many different areas of the body – wherever the blood flows.  When there is excess sugar in the blood, it becomes thicker and harder to push through the vessels.  Thus, blood flow may be diminished when going all the way to the feet and toes, resulting in some loss of feeling or numbness.

High blood sugars can affect the kidneys, cholesterol, eyes, nerves, limbs, or skin.
The kidneys filter the blood before it goes back to the heart to get pumped through the body again.  High blood sugar can damage blood vessels.  If the toxic waste from your body isn’t eliminated by the kidneys, it can build up and over time cause problems with the kidneys not being able to do their job efficiently.

If blood sugars are high, it can cause your cholesterol numbers to be elevated.  To improve your cholesterol levels, increase the fiber in your diet (whole grains, vegetables), exercise regularly to help the blood flow more readily and limit fried, processed, frozen and fast foods.

Your vision can be affected by high blood sugars.  Years of high blood sugars can damage the small vessels of the eyes causing some bleeding from the vessels.  This can affect the vision and may cause eventual blindness.  Take action now to lower blood sugars through exercise, reducing portions of food at meals and taking all medications as prescribed.  Get your annual eye exam.

Nerves can be affected by high blood sugar.  It may manifest in numbness, sharp pains, tingling or pain, often referred to as neuropathy.  Some patients can tell when their blood sugars are high because they have more foot pain or tingling.  Follow your dietary guidelines of eating more frequent small meals and moving more to encourage oxygen flow throughout the body.

Look at your feet every day.  Note any redness, irritated areas, sores or excessive calluses.  The feet are the farthest from the heart so often don’t get the circulation of blood that they need to be able to stay healthy.  See your doctor as soon as possible, if there are any problems with your feet.  Improved blood sugars can sometimes help reduce pain or tingling.

Continuous high blood sugars cause the body to lose fluids, resulting in dry skin.  Also drink at least 4 bottles of water daily to stay hydrated.  Keep our skin clean and use moisturizer and sunscreen regularly.

If your blood sugars are too high, make an appointment with your doctor to determine ways to improve your blood sugars and decrease these complications.

Susan Smith, Ph.D., CDE, is a nationally Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) and a specialist in the field of diabetes since 1988.  Since 2002 she has worked with patients individually through all of the physicians in internal medicine and family practice at Visalia Medical Clinic.



Susan Smith, Ph.D., CDE, is a nationally Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) and a specialist in the field
of diabetes since 1988.

Since 2002 she has worked with patients individually through all of the internal medicine and family
practice providers at Visalia Medical Clinic.

Type 1 diabetes occurs most frequently in children and young adults, although it can occur at any age. Type 1 diabetes accounts for 5-10% of all diabetes in the United States. There does appear to be a genetic component to Type 1 diabetes, but the cause has yet to be identified.

Type 2 diabetes is much more common and accounts for 90-95% of all diabetes. Type 2 diabetes primarily affects adults, however recently Type 2 has begun developing in children. There is a strong correlation between Type 2 diabetes, physical inactivity and obesity. People with Type 2 diabetes may hear their condition described as “mild,” but Type 2 diabetes is not a “mild” medical condition.


Diabetes and
foot care

Jeffrey Hagen, DPM, is Board-certified by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery.  He is especially interested in running/athletic injuries, reconstructive foot and ankle surgery and prevention of diabetic complications.

Uncontrolled diabetes causes damage all over the body and can lead to nerve and circulatory damage to the feet and lower legs. In fact, about 73,000 amputations were performed in the U.S. in one year alone due to uncontrolled diabetes.

Dr. Hagen works closely with VMC’s certified diabetes educator Susan Smith, Ph.D. to help patients maintain healthy control of diabetes and avoid complications of the feet. Dr. Hagen is now accepting new patients.


What are the symptoms of diabetes?

  • Blurred vision
  • Unusual thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Slow-healing cuts
  • Unexplained tiredness
  • Rapid weight loss (Type 1 diabetes)
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Numbness or tingling in hands or feet

If you experience more than one of these symptoms, make an appointment with your primary care provider.

Symptoms may occur rapidly with Type 1 diabetes; however, with Type 2 diabetes the onset is more insidious and may not be noticed.

How is diabetes diagnosed?

Through a blood test measuring your blood glucose level. Usually these tests are repeated to confirm the diagnosis.

If you are diagnosed with diabetes, what should you do?

  • Request a referral to a certified diabetes educator and/or a dietitian
  • Obtain a prescription for a glucometer and testing supplies
  • Begin to make lifestyle changes
  • Begin an exercise program
  • Decrease portion size
  • Make healthy food choices
  • Limit your intake of concentrated sweets
  • Increase your fiber intake
  • Test your blood sugar at varying times of
    the day