Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I feel as if my memory has gotten worse since I developed diabetes. Could I be right?

You may well be right. Studies have shown that mem- ory, and  other higher brain functions, can be nega- tively affected by diabetes. This pertains to both type
1 and type 2 diabetes and to both adults and children. A large  part of this effect is related to blood sugar control. Children with repeated episodes of low blood sugar have been shown to have poor long-term mem- ory performance. However, both high and low blood sugar levels  are  associated with  poor  memory per- formance.  This  affect recall  of  things  previously remembered and memorization of  new information. The effect of low blood sugar on memory appears to be the same whether a person is aware of the blood sugar or unaware of it. When memory problems are associated  with high blood sugars, the good news is that they are often reversible with improved control of the diabetes, even in older  people. Therefore, if you feel that  your memory has  deteriorated, a first step would be to ensure that your diabetes is under the best possible  control,  without  unnecessary high  or  low blood sugars.  

In addition to controlling blood sugars, it is important to  remember that  diabetes is a chronic disorder and that we age along with our diabetes. Memory function tends to decline with age, even in people without dia- betes. Also, it is possible that some of the medications that you are taking may affect memory, independently of any effect on your blood sugar. This is particularly true of medications that  may cause drowsiness (and therefore inattention to information that you may need to   memorize)  or  low  blood  pressure.  Medications given to  treat  the  pain  of neuropathy are the  most likely to  cause  drowsiness. Finally, people with dia- betes are at a significantly higher risk of diseases of the blood vessels, including those in the brain 
and are at higher risk of brain injury. Such injury may not be noticed as a single severe event, but as a series of smaller unobserved events that ultimately lead to impaired brain functioning, including memory impairment.

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