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    High Blood Sugar, Diabetes, and Your Body

    Sugar and Your Body

    Why are high blood sugar levels bad for you? Glucose is precious fuel for all the cells in your body when it's present at normal levels. But it can behave like a slow-acting poison.

    • High sugar levels slowly erode the ability of cells in your pancreas to make insulin. The organ overcompensates and insulin levels stay too high. Over time, the pancreas is permanently damaged.
    • High levels of blood sugar can cause changes that lead to a hardening of the blood vessels, what doctors call atherosclerosis.

    Almost any part of your body can be harmed by too much sugar. Damaged blood vessels cause problems such as:

    • Kidney disease or kidney failure, requiring dialysis
    • Strokes
    • Heart attacks
    • Vision loss or blindness
    • Weakened immune system, with a greater risk of infections
    • Erectile dysfunction
    • Nerve damage, also called neuropathy, that causes tingling, pain, or less sensation in your feet, legs, and hands
    • Poor circulation to the legs and feet
    • Slow wound-healing and the potential for amputation in rare cases

    Keep your blood sugar levels close to normal to avoid many of these complications. The American Diabetes Association's goals for blood sugar control in people with diabetes are 70 to 130 mg/dL before meals, and less than 180 mg/dL after meals.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on January 28, 2016
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