Psoriasis, an autoimmune disorder that causes red, scaly patches of skin, can also put you at risk of developing other illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes. A study at the University of Pennsylvania in 2012 found that those with severe psoriasis were twice as likely to develop diabetes as those who didn’t have psoriasis. And, a study completed in Denmark later concluded that any person with psoriasis, no matter the severity, had an increased risk of developing diabetes.
While it doesn’t seem like psoriasis and diabetes have much in common, both are linked with chronic inflammation. In addition, the inflammation caused by psoriasis can cause your body to increase an insulin-like growth factor, which can contribute to developing type 2 diabetes. Besides the inflammation, psoriasis affects your immune system, which can increase your chances of developing insulin resistance and diabetes.
Warning Signs of Type 2 Diabetes
If you have psoriasis, your doctor should talk to you about your risk of diabetes. Because the early warning signs are often missed or there might not be symptoms, many people are even aware they have type 2 diabetes. You should be aware of the warning signs of diabetes:
- Frequent urination
- Increased thirst
- Unexplained weight loss
- Increased hunger
- Foot pain or numbness
- More frequent vaginal infections in women
- Blurred vision
- Cuts or bruises that are slow to heal
Early detection is important. It helps you get it under control and can help prevent complications from the disease. Even if you aren’t having any of the symptoms, if you have psoriasis, your doctor might suggest regular blood tests to monitor your glucose levels.
What You Should Do if You Have or Think You Have Type 2 DiabetesThe first step, if you think you have type 2 diabetes, is to** talk with your doctor** about your symptoms. He or she will probably send you for blood tests to confirm the diagnosis. If you do have type 2 diabetes, you might have to make some lifestyle changes. You don’t want to suddenly go on a crash diet though. The key to managing diabetes is to eat at consistent times, spacing out carbohydrates throughout the day. You’ll want to eat healthy and limit your caloric intake, so your doctor or nutritionist can help you work out a daily menu.
Exerciseis important. It helps to lower your blood sugar and help reduce your psoriasis. But you want to be consistent with your exercise program as well. When you do spurts of exercise one day and then don’t do any for several days, you can contribute to blood sugar spikes. Talk with your doctor about a good exercise program for you and then stick to it on a daily basis.
Learn about diabetes. There is a lot of false information and myths surrounding diabetes. Make sure you know the facts and learn as much about the disease as you can. The more you know and understand, the more you can be proactive in managing it.
Understand the treatment options. While your first thought may be that you will need to take insulin for the rest of your life, that isn’t necessarily true. Many people manage their diabetes through diet and lifestyle changes. An oral medication, Metformin, can also help to control the diabetes. Not everyone needs to take insulin on a daily basis. Make sure you understand what the treatment options are, what your doctor recommends and why he or she recommends that particular treatment.
Early detection of type 2 diabetes helps prevent complications, such as neuropathy. Although it is scary to hear that you have diabetes, take a deep breath and learn about what you can do to better care for yourself and keep your diabetes under control. Diabetes, although serious, is manageable.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.