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HEALTH Q&A: Diabetes and memory

Q Does diabetes cause memory loss?

A Diabetes is a chronic, unforgiving disease, with a penchant for damaging blood vessels and neural tissue. The brain is a major consumer of glucose, and demands a constant supply, even during sleep. Without the proper amounts of glucose, the brain is starved, and may begin to malfunction.

The blood vessels which feed the brain can be damaged by diabetes, thus impairing the nutrition and energy available to the brain. There can be simple confusion and memory loss, but in a worst case scenario, a complete stroke.

Since glucose is the brain’s preferred source of energy, diabetic fluctuations in blood glucose may also affect memory as well as impairing the person’s ability to focus their thoughts, causing confusion. High blood sugars promote vascular damage as noted above, while low blood sugars impair brain function.

Mental processing is rapidly affected by low blood glucose, as the brain does not have the capacity to store glucose. To fight these problems, check your blood glucose, train family and friends to recognize the signs and symptoms of low blood glucose, and always carry some form of glucose with you.

Finally, talk to your doctor about other aspects of minimizing diabetes damage, including controlling cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

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