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The Role of Inflammation in Diabetes

The Role of Inflammation in DiabetesPhoto from Unsplash

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There is more to diabetes than insulin and managing blood sugar levels. It’s a complex disease that impacts the body in many ways, such as inducing a chronic, low-grade inflammation throughout the body. Understanding this connection and being proactive in your conversations with your doctors can help you navigate the diabetic complications associated with inflammation. Read on to learn more about the impact diabetes has on inflammation.


What is Inflammation?

Inflammation is your body’s natural response to potential threats, such as injuries or infections. While this normal short-term immune response can protect and heal your body, prolonged inflammation can harm tissues and your overall health. You’ve likely experienced the signs of inflammation, like swelling, redness, or a burning sensation that comes from cuts or bruises. These signs show that your body is repairing damaged tissues and normally subside as the wound heals. However, inflammation isn’t always visible; it can also occur deep within your body’s blood vessels and organs.

While short-term inflammation is a normal response, inflammation that persists over an extended period can become a bigger health concern. Known as chronic inflammation, this condition can lower your immunity and elevate the risk of heart disease and metabolic syndrome. It can also often be accompanied by symptoms like brain fog, indigestion, and fatigue. Chronic inflammation poses a multifaceted threat to your well-being. In diabetes, persistently high blood sugar levels can induce inflammation in many organs. Chronic inflammation in organs such as the heart, kidneys, and eyes can lead to damage and affect function.


Inflammation and Diabetic Retinopathy

When chronic inflammation from high blood sugar affects the eyes, it is possible to eventually damage the retina in a condition called diabetic retinopathy. The retina is the part of the eye responsible for detecting light and transmitting visual signals to the brain. If diabetic retinopathy worsens, it can lead to other complications like glaucoma and diabetic macular edema (DME). If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can cause poorer vision and, eventually, blindness.


How to Manage Inflammation

To manage inflammation effectively, it’s important to maintain blood sugar levels within a healthy range as directed by your physician. Regular physical activity, a balanced diet, and adherence to your doctor’s diabetes management plan can be great places to start. Certain foods and nutrients possess anti-inflammatory properties and can contribute to overall well-being. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fatty fish, combined with an active lifestyle, stress management, and adequate sleep, can all help tame inflammation and stabilize blood sugar levels.

Understanding inflammation as it relates to diabetes can be valuable in navigating the challenges and complexities of this disease. The good news is that there are many ways to manage inflammation, such as corticosteroid therapy. If you are experiencing vision loss or other symptoms of DME, don’t wait to see your eye doctor. DME can be better managed with early detection and treatment. Make an appointment today to talk with your doctor and see if the long-acting steroid treatment option, ILUVIEN®, could be right for you. To learn more about ILUVIEN, please visit our website.



Cleveland Clinic

Harvard Health


Mayo Clinic


National Eye Institute

National Library of Medicine



ILUVIEN® (fluocinolone acetonide intravitreal implant) 0.19 mg is indicated for the treatment of diabetic macular edema (DME) in patients who have been previously treated with a course of corticosteroids and did not have a clinically significant rise in intraocular pressure.

Important Safety Information

  • Do not use ILUVIEN if you have or think you might have an infection in or around the eye.
  • ILUVIEN should not be used if you have glaucoma with a cup to disc ratio of greater than 0.8.
  • You should not use ILUVIEN if you have a hypersensitivity to any components of this product.
  • Injections into the vitreous in the eye are associated with a serious eye infection (endophthalmitis), eye inflammation, increased eye pressure, glaucoma, and retinal detachments. Your eye doctor should monitor you regularly after the injection.
  • Corticosteroids may increase secondary eye infections due to bacteria, fungi, or viruses. Let your doctor know if you have a history of herpes viral infections of the eye.
  • If the posterior capsule of the lens of your eye is missing or torn, the ILUVIEN implant may move to the front chamber of the eye.
  • The most common side effects reported in patients with diabetic macular edema who were treated with corticosteroids, including ILUVIEN, include cataracts (ILUVIEN 82%; sham 50%) and increased eye pressure (ILUVIEN 34%; sham 10%).
  • This safety information is not comprehensive. For additional safety information, please talk to your doctor and see the full Prescribing Information for ILUVIEN at

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA.
Visit, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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