The Connection Between Diabetes and Sepsis

October 31, 2019

diabetesLiving with a chronic illness can be challenging, especially if you have a disease like diabetes. Any changes in your routines or health status can have a serious impact on how well your body manages its blood sugar (glucose) levels. And, unstable blood sugar levels put you at higher risk of developing complications like infections, which can lead to sepsis.

Most people with diabetes are aware of their risks of developing skin sores, particularly in their feet. Diabetes affects your blood circulation, particularly in the lower legs. As diabetes progresses, it can also harm the nerves, which means that you may not feel a sore on your foot or lower leg as it starts. Unless you visually inspect your feet every day, it’s possible that you have a blister or cut without you realizing it. And diabetes also puts you at risk for other infections.

Consistently high blood sugar levels can lower your ability to fight common infections like the flu or pneumonia, particularly pneumonia caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae. People with diabetes are also more likely to contract bacterial infections caused by gram-negative bacteria. These include infections such as pertussis (whooping cough), cat scratch disease, even salmonella. And as if that wasn’t enough, having diabetes also puts you at higher risk for developing fungal infections, like thrush, or vaginal or urinary yeast infections.

This increased risk of infection is why Sepsis Alliance developed its Sepsis and Diabetes resource, in an effort to raise awareness of the connection between diabetes and sepsis. As more Americans are diagnosed with diabetes, more will develop complications, such as infections and sepsis. In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued this statement: “More than 100 million U.S. adults are now living with diabetes or prediabetes … The report finds that as of 2015, 30.3 million Americans – 9.4 percent of the U.S. population –have diabetes. Another 84.1 million have prediabetes, a condition that if not treated often leads to type 2 diabetes within five years.”

November is National Diabetes Month. If you are concerned about diabetes, the CDC has this quick questionnaire that can indicate your personal risk. You can print out the results and bring them to your doctor so you can discuss diabetes prevention, diagnosis, or treatment, depending on your situation.

Learn more about diabetes and many other conditions that can be related to sepsis in the Sepsis Alliance Sepsis and… library. If you have an infection or suspect you may have one, remember the memory aid TIME™ and seek immediate medical help if you think you may have sepsis. Suspect sepsis. Save lives.