The American Diabetes Association estimates some 25.2% or 12 million seniors live with diabetes. If you are one of them, you have likely heard how the condition can make you more likely to experience a fall. Have you ever wondered why, though? What about the disease of diabetes increases your risk of falling? Read on to find out…
The condition of diabetes causes the body’s glucose rates to increase. This can and often does cause nerve damage within the body. The medical term for this is neuropathy. According to experts, almost half of all diabetics will develop some sort of neuropathy as a by-product of the disease. Nerve damage, especially to the nerves in the toes, feet and spinal cord can cause a loss of muscle tone and sensation in the ankles and feet. This in turn can make it harder for you to walk and increase your chance of losing your balance. A study published in the PLOS One Journal found those individuals with neuropathy or nerve damage had a much greater risk of falling than those without such damage.
Functional Disabilities and Vision Issues, Also a Problem
Neuropathy isn’t the only problem linking diabetes with an increased risk of falling. If you have diabetes, you are also at a greater risk of developing functional disabilities. This can make tasks like climbing stairs arduous and even walking for extended periods of time problematic. Diabetes can also result in retinopathy, which happens to be the top cause of vision loss in diabetics. Of course, reduced vision and functional disabilities, along with muscle loss only add to your fall risk.
Low Blood Sugar Another Factor
Although diabetes is characterized by high blood glucose measurements, when you take medication and/or insulin in an attempt to lower your increased levels, this can result in another problem altogether, that being low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. This condition can cause you to become woozy, and lose your balance, which of course increases your risk of falling. According to the Medicine journal, diabetic patients who have a history of hypoglycemic episodes were at an increased risk of falls.
Medications, Yet Another Factor Leading to Falls
Another strike against you as a diabetic when it comes to your fall risk is your medication regimen. As a diabetic, you likely take an abundance of medications. Many experts feel taking several medications can increase your fall risk. Some studies even suggest your risk of falling goes up 7% with the introduction of each additional medication.
Why Falling is so Bad
As the information listed above proves, being diabetic can increase your risk of falling in a variety of ways. Though taking a fall might sound innocuous, you should know that it is the most common factor that causes traumatic brain injuries in older adults according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It also can cause bone loss and a loss of independence so it should be avoided when possible.
Diabetes is a common disease and as such is often considered a minor one. It shouldn’t be taken lightly, though, especially when you consider how much simply having the condition can increase your risk of falling.