Diabetes Complications

Diabetes complications can be serious. Diabetes can cause nerve damage. Nerve damage caused by diabetes is called diabetic neuropathy. People with diabetic neuropathy may experience numbness, pain, or tingling in the extremities or have no symptoms. Diabetic neuropathy is a common complication of diabetes, especially for diabetic patients who have had diabetes for over twenty-five years.

People with diabetes have an increased risk for heart disease and stroke. Fatty deposits can accumulate inside blood vessels due to high levels of glucose in the blood. These fatty deposits constrict blood flow which can lead to heart disease. If a blood vessel in the brain or neck becomes clogged, it can cause a stroke.

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common eye disease associated with diabetes. Diabetes retinopathy is a condition that can cause the small blood vessels of the eyes to leak blood. This condition can cause blurriness, blank spots, dark spots, flashing lights, and pain or pressure in the eyes.

If diabetic retinopathy is left untreated, it can lead to blindness. If diabetic patients experience any vision problems, they should notify their physicians. Diabetic retinopathy can be treated with lasers to stop blood vessels from continuing to leak into the vitreous of the eye.

Diabetes can cause kidney failure. People who have had diabetes for at least fifteen years are at greater risk for kidney failure. Diabetes impairs the kidneys’ ability to filter waste from the blood.  

There are some lesser-known complications of diabetes. Erectile dysfunction affects thirty-five to fifty percent of men with diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes can increase a diabetic patient’s risk of tooth and gum disease.

Gastroparesis is caused my nerve damage affecting the nerves of the stomach. This complication of diabetes causes gastrointestinal problems such as heartburn, reflux, and nausea. Gastroparesis extends the amount of time it takes for food to digest. Partially undigested food can sit in the stomach for significant periods of time which can cause a blockage of the digestive tract.  

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Type 2 Diabetes – Why And What

Type 2 diabetes is caused by a decrease in the effectiveness or production of insulin. Without insulin, the amount of glucose, or sugar, in the blood increases. The elevated blood sugar level causes diabetes. If left unmanaged, the high blood glucose level can lead to potentially dangerous complications of diabetes.

Excessive thirst and frequent urination are symptoms of diabetes that are often the first warning sign a person experiences. Excessive hunger, weight loss, and fatigue are common symptoms of diabetes. Diabetes can also cause blurred vision. Diabetes may make sores heal more slowly than usual. Frequent infections can also occur.

If someone experiences symptoms of diabetes, they should consult a doctor to be evaluated for the condition. The physician may use a blood sugar test to diagnose diabetes or rule it out if the blood sugar level is normal. A normal fasting blood sugar level is between 70 and 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). A level between 100 and 125 suggests prediabetes. Scoring above 125 on a fasting blood sugar test indicates diabetes. Instead of a fasting blood test, the doctor may use a random blood test. A score above 200 regardless of when the individual ate is indicative of diabetes.

Much like the tests used to diagnose diabetes, the diabetic patient must check the blood sugar level periodically each day. Usually a fasting reading is taken before the person eats breakfast. Then, the person takes another reading after each meal. It is important for the diabetic patient to follow the physician’s instructions for checking and recording blood sugars.

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), and a high level of ketones in the urine can be serious complications. If left untreated, they can cause seizures and loss of consciousness. Diabetes can cause damage to the eyes which can lead to blindness. Diabetes increases an individual’s risk for cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s. Damage to the kidneys, nerves, skin, and feet are possible complications of diabetes. If any symptoms of these conditions develop, early intervention is often the key to preventing a serious condition.