5 ways diabetes affects the healing process
Diabetes is a disease where the body is unable to produce or use insulin properly, which leads to high blood sugar levels. In 2018, over 10% of the population in the United States had diabetes with an average of 1.5 million new cases being diagnosed every year according to the American Diabetes Association. Along with the challenges of managing the disease, diabetics often have a harder time recovering from surgery or illness. Here are five challenges that diabetics face during recovery.
SLOWER HEALING PROCESS
The healing process begins when platelets in the blood stick to the wound and release chemicals to begin the clotting process. The next step is inflammation, where specialized white blood cells clear our damaged cells and bacteria. High blood sugar from diabetes can cause excess inflammation and disrupt this part of the healing process. Healing continues with the production of new blood vessels to grow tissue. This process known as angiogenesis is a key part of the healing process. Diabetes can cause a decrease in angiogenesis, which slows down healing or prevents healing from occurring.
LOSS OF SENSATION AND TINGLING
When blood sugar levels are higher than normal, the nerve and vessels can be damaged, especially in the hands and feet. This condition is known as peripheral neuropathy and causes the affected areas to feel numb. When the nerves are damaged, no messages are being sent to the central nervous system to cue the body to address recovery needs.
SLOWING OF BLOOD CIRCULATION
Diabetics are twice as likely to develop peripheral vascular disease, a condition where the blood vessels become so narrow that blood flow is reduced. In addition, high levels of sugar in the blood can make blood thicker, which slows the flow more. This reduced flow keeps the body from getting the needed nutrients and oxygen that energize cells and promote healing.
WEAKENED IMMUNE SYSTEM
The immune systems of people with diabetes often do not work properly. When the immune system is weak, the body is unable to send the sufficient number of cells needed to help with recovery. The cells that are present are often not strong enough to trigger the necessary processes, making it harder for the body to recover.
INCREASED CHANCE OF INFECTION
When the immune system is weak and is not sending enough cells to fight off bacteria, the likelihood of infection increases. In addition, bacteria thrive on the excess sugar that may be present in the bloodstream. This increase in bacteria can overcome weakened immune cells and lead to serious infections.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PROPER CARE
In any recovery after a hospital stay or other serious medical event, there are many areas of concern from pain management to wound care. When diabetes is part of the process, proper care becomes even more crucial. This is why many people wisely choose to recover at Whitehall of Deerfield where there is an experienced staff to help overcome all challenges. Whitehall of Deerfield has certified wound-care therapists who can deliver comprehensive wound care to minimize complications. Staff who are experienced on how to monitor and manage diabetic blood sugar levels are also present. An on-staff registered dietitian works to create meals that are appetizing, nutritious and effective in controlling blood sugar levels. Having a team of professionals familiar with the challenges of diabetes can help improve both recovery time and recovery success.
Whitehall of Deerfield is ranked among the top 1% of all Illinois post-hospital rehabilitation and nursing care centers by Newsweek — and has consistently received both U.S. News & World Report’s and Medicare’s highest five-star rating. Learn more about the individualized, one-on-one therapy programs, world-class amenities and COVID-19 safety measures by visiting WhitehallofDeerfield.com or calling 847-945-4600.