High blood sugar from diabetes can affect the body's
immune system, impairing the ability of white blood
cells to come to the site of an infection, stay in the infected area, and kill
microorganisms. Because of the buildup of
plaque in blood vessels associated with diabetes,
areas of infection may receive a poor blood supply, further lowering the
body's ability to fight infections and heal wounds.
People with high blood sugar from diabetes can be more severely affected by common
infections, such as influenza and
pneumonia caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae. This is why immunizations for influenza (the flu) and pneumococcal disease are recommended for people who have diabetes.
And people who have high blood sugar from diabetes are more likely to be
infected with unusual organisms, such as Gram-negative bacteria or
Foot infections are common in people who have high blood sugar from diabetes. Nerve damage
(neuropathy) combined with poor blood supply to the feet puts people who have high blood sugar from diabetes at high risk for infected foot ulcers.
Other infections for which people with high blood sugar from diabetes are at increased
Yeast infections on the skin and in the urinary
Severe infection of the outer ear with the bacteria
Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This infection is called malignant external otitis. It causes severe ear pain and drainage from the infected ear.
Extremely serious infection of the nose and sinuses with
the fungus Rhizopus oryzae. This infection is called zygomycosis or mucormycosis. This is a complication of diabetic ketoacidosis.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerDavid C.W. Lau, MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology