Because of the way high blood sugar ravages nerves and blood vessels, people with diabetes are more susceptible to serious infections. Weakened immune systems (also caused by merciless high blood sugar) are less able to fight infections when they start. People with diabetes are at higher risk for gangrene, and diabetes is the leading cause of limb amputations in the United States.
And it looks like things are getting worse. The number of people with diabetes hospitalized for infections rose by 52 percent between 2010 and 2015, or from a rate of about 16 in 1,000 to 24 in 1,000, according to a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For those without diabetes, the rate of increase was only 17 percent. Overall, that’s an increase of 34.5 percent for infection-related hospitalizations in the US.
The study, led by Dr. Jessica Harding of the CDC, used national hospitalization data from 46 states. “People with diabetes are more susceptible to in-hospital infections as compared with people without diabetes, and this risk is increasing,” Dr. Harding said.
The data showed that the most common type of infections were respiratory tract and skin infections, but rates of these infections was about seven times higher for people with diabetes. The overall increase in infection rate was driven mainly by rising rates of developing sepsis while in the hospital, urinary tract infections, and a skin and connective tissues infections, such as diabetic foot ulcers.
Dr. Harding hopes that the research will help reduce the number of hospitalizations. “By identifying and addressing the factors that put people at risk of infection-related hospitalizations, we can work to improve the overall care delivered in our healthcare system,” she said.
The findings of the study were presented on October 2, 2018 at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Berlin. The research is considered preliminary until published in peer-reviewed journal.
The high blood sugar associated with diabetes can compromise blood flow, restricting oxygen to wounded tissue. This makes even tiny cuts and scratches more susceptible to infection. People with diabetes are encouraged to be vigilant about checking their body, especially their feet, for wounds on a daily basis.
Katie Taylor started writing in 5th grade and hasn't stopped since. Her favorite place to pen a phrase is in front of her fireplace with a cup of tea, but she's been known to write in parking lots on the backs of old receipts if necessary. She and her husband live cozily in the Pacific Northwest enjoying rainy days and Netflix.