Three Ways Stress Affects Diabetes

Many people deal with stress on a daily basis, whether because of a short-term problem or a long-term struggle. But for people with diabetes, stress can prove even more harmful. What exactly does stress do to a diabetic’s body?

Below are a few ways that stress can affect diabetics and lead to complications:

Increase in Blood Glucose Level

Both physical and mental stress can lead to higher levels of blood glucose. Because the body wants to take action against stress, it pumps out more glucose. This, however, proves harmful to people with Type 2 diabetes who must keep their glucose levels at a stable point. To battle glucose spikes, Type 2 diabetes patients can find ways to get rid of stress.

Relaxation techniques, breathing methods and regular exercise can help relieve stress. Making life changes such as switching jobs or joining a support group can also make an impact. However, the impact all depends on the sources of stress for each particular person. You can see what affects your blood sugar levels by keeping notes on life events or stressful periods and writing down your sugar levels at the time.

Insulin Resistance

Significant amounts of stress can also cause insulin resistance, meaning the pancreas cannot create enough insulin to battle high levels of glucose. The stress hormones cortisol and norepinephrine can cause this insulin resistance. Other findings suggest that a lack of sleep can cause these hormones to be released because sleeplessness can cause more stress, making it even more important to get adequate amounts of rest. Insulin resistance is a huge complication even for those not suffering from diabetes, which is why lessening stress and increasing sleep should be a priority for everyone.

Changes in Diet and Regimen

On a less medical note, even your everyday routine can change because of stress. Eating habits can change when major inner conflict or life events happen – usually for the worst. It is crucial to pay attention to any of these changes. Some people turn to unhealthy food during difficult times, which proves especially dangerous for someone with diabetes. Stress can also make people feel distracted, which causes them to forget major parts of their daily regimen. Sticking to established habits and schedules during stressful periods can help avoid any sudden changes.

Stress is not always obvious, and it helps to step back and reflect on the present situation. If something big happened recently, it is a good idea to check your sugar levels and eating habits.

Sources: Chicago Tribune,CNN, American Diabetes Association, Web MD.

Photo by stuartpilbrow

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