About 9.3 percent of people in the United States had diabetes in 2012, which comes up to about 29.1 million Americans. This number has steadily augmented over the years and has presently amounted to an alarming amount. Medical professionals diagnose an estimated 1.4 million new cases in the U.S every year.
Diabetes is one of the most common ailments in our present era, seen so frequently that most people have ceased to regard it as a disease. It entails a higher than average blood glucose level, also known as hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia is a condition that occurs when the body is unable to produce or respond to sufficient insulin, resulting in the blood glucose levels increasing.
Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas that regulates blood sugar levels by converting glucose into other kinds of sugars utilized by the body. Sugar is crucial to maintaining regular body function: it is the body’s primary fuel source and regulates normal organ function.
A decrease in insulin production or resistance to the hormone results in an excessive presence of glucose in the bloodstream, which results in many complications such as diabetic seizures and memory loss. Diabetes and memory loss symptoms are frequently associated with each other, as most people suffer from not only increased blood sugar but also low blood sugar memory loss.
So is memory loss caused by diabetes reversible? This article delves into this query and all you need to know about diabetes, neuropathy and memory loss, along with how you can manage, prevent, and treat memory loss induced by diabetes. Let’s get started.
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Types of Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is also known as juvenile diabetes and is a disease in which an individual’s antibodies regard the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas as prospective antagonists and start attacking them. Such an autoimmune response results in a decrease in the insulin-producing cells, which in turn reduces the amount of produced insulin. Insulin is necessary to help glucose molecules enter the cells, which the body uses to create energy.
Individuals with type 1 diabetes face difficulty in producing adequate amounts of insulin, which causes higher than normal blood glucose levels. Such people are required to take insulin injections as a necessary daily routine. About 1.25 million individuals in the United States lived with type 1 diabetes as of 2012.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes around the globe. People with type 2 diabetes do produce insulin in the required amounts but are unable to use it in ways that help retain their normal body functions. This resistance triggers the pancreas to produce even more insulin, and the extra amount increases the hormone levels in the bloodstream.
This excess insulin in the blood causes several memory and cognitive complications when it travels through the body and into the brain. The association between type 2 diabetes and memory loss is frequently made in healthcare. Type 2 diabetes may also cause brain fog, which decreases concentration, boosts mood swings and causes memory problems.
Understanding Diabetes Forgetfulness
Memory loss is one of the common and normal phenomena of aging. However, the memory loss resulting from aging exhibits a different outlook than the complex cognitive changes associated with memory loss induced by Alzheimer’s disease and other degenerative diseases or diabetes forgetfulness. A person with age-related memory loss may forget names or misplace objects, but these symptoms do not impact their ability to live independently.
Other severe symptoms of memory loss may include:
- Forgetting frequently used words while speaking.
- Showing signs of sudden mood swings
- Experiencing confusion, depression, or paranoia.
- Being unable to carry out even simple everyday tasks.
- Getting lost frequently, especially in familiar surroundings.
- Repeating the same queries over and over again.
Such symptoms may point to a deterioration in a person’s cognitive ability and require immediate medical redress. Although the most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, many researchers consider it to be strongly connected to high blood glucose levels.
Related: How To Help Someone With Memory Loss
However, memory loss can be the result of several other conditions as well, some of which include the following:
- Concussion or head injuries
- Transient Ischemic Attack
- Thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency
- Underactive thyroid
- Alcohol abuse
- Traumatic events in the past that may cause psychogenic amnesia
- Use of particular medications, such as statins, sedatives, or drugs to treat Parkinson’s disease
Diabetes and the Brain
Studies show that a reduced blood supply to the brain is the number one predictor of future memory or cognitive complications. A technology known as SPECT shows that diabetes causes decreased blood flow to the brain and reduces the size of the hippocampus, which is the region of the brain involved in the formation of memories by turning short-term memory into long-term memory.
Increased blood sugar levels can cause significant complications, such as brain atrophy, dementia, and memory problems, even when the levels are mildly elevated. Individuals who didn’t have diabetes but had average blood glucose levels of 115 milligrams per deciliter had an 18% higher risk for dementia than those with average glucose levels of 100 mg/dL. The normal blood glucose range is less than 100 mg/dL, and individuals with an incrementally higher glucose level have a higher risk of dementia. People with an average glucose level of 190 mg/d had a 40% higher risk of memory loss or dementia than those with a glucose level of 160 mg/dL.
How are Diabetes and Memory Loss Symptoms related?
The primary symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease: general cognitive impairment and memory loss, are both linked to Type 2 diabetes. Since damage to the blood vessels is also common in people with high blood glucose levels, they are also at an elevated risk for vascular dementia and cognitive decline.
One study shows that Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is closely associated with glucose metabolism and signaling in the brain as it contains insulin receptors. These receptors recognize insulin, and thus an imbalance in its production increases the risk for memory loss and AD. Symptoms of this metabolic syndrome affect memory in specific ways, and scientists have endeavored to chalk them. Some common symptoms of metabolic syndrome, which is also a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, may include:
- High cholesterol levels
- High blood sugar levels
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased body fat, particularly around the waist
Although researchers are unable to draw out the full link between these two factors, the connection between insulin signaling and Alzheimer’s disease is specific.
Is Memory Loss Caused by Diabetes Reversible?
Fortunately, memory loss caused by diabetes is both preventable and reversible in many initial stages. However, a medical professional must root out the actual cause behind a patient’s memory loss and devise a suitable treatment plan for that to happen. Those at risk for Type 2 diabetes or who have already been diagnosed with this condition may need to make several lifestyle changes.
Memory loss induced by AD is usually initially treated by administering cholinesterase inhibitors. However, those with a high blood glucose level can prevent their condition from worsening by keeping their blood glucose levels in check and preventing this from rising even by a bit. In severe cases where a patient’s blood glucose level reaches a reversible state, the memory loss may be almost impossible to treat or reverse.
How to Prevent or Limit Memory Loss
Apart from keeping your blood glucose levels in check and using insulin injections regularly or as prescribed by a medical professional, some other tips can help prevent or limit memory loss. These include the following:
- Switch to a healthy diet rich in wholesome foods such as vegetables, fruits, lean meats, and whole grains.
- Limit the use of processed and high-fat foods (also known as the Mediterranean diet).
- Increase omega-3 fatty acids in your diet as they can help enhance heart health, prevent cardiovascular complications, and prevent cognitive decline.
- Active compounds used in traditional Chinese medicine, such as berberine, or those found in bitter melon and ginseng, show a positive role in managing the symptoms of metabolic syndrome and high blood glucose levels.
- Use supplements after confirming them from your medical professional.
- Quit the sedentary lifestyle and switch to healthy exercise. Research shows that women who indulged in strength training diminished their risk for diabetes by 30% as compared to the women who did not do so.
- Opt for decaffeinated tea and coffee as they can help boost metabolism and lower the risk of diabetes
- Avoid low-fiber, high-glycemic foods.
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