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Diabetes in itself is a serious health condition that needs on-time diagnosis and proper management to avoid diabetes complications. As a matter of fact, type 2 diabetes can remain undetected for years, and people suffering from the same usually get diagnosed due to related complications instead of directly suspecting that they have diabetes.
The diabetes stats are alarming too! Nearly 30.3 million Americans have diabetes, which accounts for 9.4% of the total U.S. population. Out of these, 7.2 million cases are supposed to be undiagnosed. What is more depressing is the fact that as of 2015, diabetes had been the 7th major cause of death in the U.S. There are many Yoga exercises for Diabetes that help you deal with these conditions in a very healthy way.
Sadly, it is not directly the disease, but its complications that are accountable for all the deaths due to diabetes. This sheer fact makes it downright important that this chronic disorder should be diagnosed on time and calls for proper diabetes management , inclusive of lifestyle changes and medications, to avoid or delay any complication after diabetes onset.
Diabetes, if left unchecked, can wreak havoc on nearly every body part or organ system. And, in case the complication is neglected for long, even organ failure or loss of body part may occur.
Depending on the affected organ system or body part, diabetes complications can be as follows:
- Eye Complications
- Skin Complications
- Kidney disease (Nephropathy)
- Neuropathy (Damage to nerves)
- Foot complications
- Diabetes ketoacidosis
- Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome (HHNS)
- Heart Disease
- Emotional Issues
Let’s learn about each of these complications in detail:
Eye issues are common in diabetes and may even result in blindness too. However, majority of diabetics generally suffer from mild eye problems only. Eye disorders that can occur due to diabetes complications are as follows:
- Glaucoma – damage to the nerve connecting the brain to eye – People with diabetes are 40% more susceptible of developing glaucoma
- Cataracts – Clouding of the eye lens – Diabetics have 60% more likelihood of developing cataracts.
- Retinopathy – Damage to blood vessels in retina – It could be either non-proliferative or proliferative.
Diabetics are at a greater risk of developing skin conditions like itching, bacterial infections and fungal infections. Besides, there are some skin conditions that frequently or exclusively occur in people with diabetes, which include necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum, diabetic dermopathy, eruptive xanthomatosis and diabetic blisters.
Nephropathy (Kidney Disease):
In uncontrolled diabetes, abnormally high blood glucose exerts extra pressure on the kidneys, which over time causes the microfilters in the kidneys to become leaky, allowing important protein to be lost with urine.
It is not that every diabetic suffers from nephropathy, but several factor can contribute to the development of kidney disease, including blood pressure, genetics and blood sugar level.
It is important for a diabetic to keep the blood glucose level in check to reduce the risk of nephropathy.
Neuropathy (Damage to Nerves):
When this occurs due to diabetes, it is termed as diabetic neuropathy. Nearly 50% people with diabetes suffer from nerve damage with more common in those, who are living with this chronic disease for several years.
Controlling blood glucose level is important to prevent or delay neuropathy. In case you already have it, keeping blood sugar in check can prevent aggravation of neuropathy.
It is observed that foot problems are common in people with diabetes. Even mild problems may exacerbate in diabetics if left untreated. So, they need to be extra cautious about the occurrence of such problems.
Neuropathy is mainly responsible for foot problems like pain (stinging or burning), weakness and tingling sensation in feet. Loss of sensation in the feet might also take place, which may let any foot injury go unnoticed. Hampered blood flow as well as changes in the shape of toes or foot can be a result of diabetes complications.
Skin on the foot may also show some changes in diabetes in the form of skin dryness, peeling skin and cracked skin. Moreover, diabetics are at a higher risk of developing calluses over the ball of the feet, which makes the affected area more prone to infections and ulcers.
Usually occurring on the balls of the feet and beneath the big toe, foot ulcers are a common diabetes complication. Footwear with wrong fitting may also lead to ulcers on the sides of the foot. This must be treated on time to avoid infections. Untreated ulcers may even lead to limb loss.
People with diabetes are way more susceptible to peripheral arterial disease (PAD), leading to sensation loss. Ulcers and infections in such cases don’t heal easily, which can even result in amputation.
Diabetes Ketoacidosis (DKA)
This is quite a perilous complication, which can result in diabetic coma or death. In diabetes, due to insulin resistance, when cells don’t get glucose they rely on fat for energy, and the process of fat metabolism produces ketones. In higher concentration, ketones can act as a poison to the body. When its levels are extremely high, DKA develops. It is rare in type 2 diabetics.
High blood sugar or hypertension can occur in people with diabetes. As per the reports, 2 out of 3 American diabetics have hypertension and take medicines for the same. This further up the risk of heart disease and stroke.
People of diabetes have 1.5 times greater likelihood of getting a stroke than normal ones. You can lower your stroke risk by controlling blood glucose levels, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome (HHNS)
This is common in the elderly and can happen to people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Any illness or infection is usually the root cause of HHNS. This occurs when the body tries to free itself from excess blood sugar by passing the same via urine. Initially, excessive urine formation and frequent need to urinate may occur. Gradually, the urge of frequent urination might reduce, but urine will become too dark.
If HHNS persists, serious dehydration can result in coma, seizures or even death.
Surprisingly, 2 out of every three diabetics die of cardiovascular disease or stroke. Clogged arteries and high blood sugar in people with diabetes can cause heart ailments, heart attack and other similar problems. Cholesterol and blood pressure must be kept under control.
People with both type 2 and type 1 diabetes are affected by this condition; in which, the stomach takes extra than normal time to empty its contents. This is also known as delayed gastric emptying, and occurs due to ruptured or non-functional vagus nerve, which slows the movement of food through stomach and intestine.
Quite similar to other types of neuropathies, unchecked blood glues levels in diabetes can cause damage to vagus nerve.
Living with diabetes can be stressful. Diabetes-induced distress, sadness and anger can eventually lead to depression. These may generally stem from poor control over blood glucose, mental burden of other diabetes complications and hurdles in taking good care of oneself.
Diabetes management is not just about keeping your blood glucose levels in check, but involves all possible efforts to decrease your chances of developing diabetes complications or delay the onset of the same.
Fortunately, with a holistic diabetes management approach – inclusive of medications/insulin therapy, diabetes diet, daily exercise and similar lifestyle modifications – you can significantly cut down your risk of developing any complication.
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