Glucose is an important source of energy for the cells and tissues of the body, and hence important for overall health. Diabetes is a disorder that affects how the body consumes blood glucose. Two forms of chronic diabetes are type I diabetes (production of less or no insulin in the body) and type II diabetes (insulin resistance or deficiency).
Diabetes leads to excessive amounts of blood glucose that can put a person at risk of other serious health conditions.
What are the causes of increased complication in diabetes?
Lack of proper care in maintaining blood glucose levels can make a person prone to numerous complications that can adversely affect almost every organ of the body. Most of these complications result from damage to blood vessels, nerves or both.
- Diabetes and eyes: Diabetes can result in eye disorders like glaucoma (through an increase in pressure in the eye), cataract and diabetic retinopathy.
- Diabetes and kidney: High blood sugar can overwork kidneys, leading to kidney damage.
- Diabetes and heart: Diabetes put a person at risk of developing stroke, peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and hypertension.
- Diabetes and teeth: People are more likely to develop gum diseases and lose more teeth if they have uncontrolled diabetes.
- Diabetes and nerves: Excess glucose in blood vessels that supply the nerves can damage these blood vessels, in turn affecting nerve function. Nerve damage and poor blood flow in feet cause foot problems and disfigurements.
What one needs to know about symptoms or signs of diabetes complications?
Depending on the organ affected by the diabetic condition, affected persons may experience the following:
- Damage to blood vessels in legs and other large vessels may interrupt blood supply, cause leg cramps, change skin colour and decrease sensation in that region. Persons might not experience any symptoms of heart disease till they experience a stroke.
- Eye disorder due to diabetes can create problems in vision, vision loss or pain.
- Intensive damage to kidneys or their failure will cause swelling in legs and feet.
- Nerve damage due to diabetes will result in numbness, burning, tingling or shooting pain in the feet, hands or other body parts (diabetic neuropathy); damage to nerves connected to internal organs (autonomic neuropathy); digestive or sexual problems (gastroparesis); loss of bladder control, dizziness.
Which specialist should be consulted in case of any of the signs and symptoms?
Upon noticing abnormal conditions over and above the usual diabetic symptoms, persons may book an appointment with an endocrinologist who specializes in treating disorders caused by hormone imbalance.
What treatment modalities are available for management of the disorder?
Treating or reducing risk factors that emerge from uncontrolled diabetes focuses on slowing down the development or spread of damage caused to different organs. This is mediated through medication or surgery. However, the most crucial factor in controlling susceptibility to diabetic complications lie in controlling blood glucose and cholesterol levels.
What precautions or steps are necessary to stay healthy and happy during the treatment?
Diabetes is a chronic disorder that can progress to a life-threatening stage or lead to other ailments. It is very important that to stringently follow the treatment plan outlined by the doctor. Tenacious care of self can greatly reduce one’s risk of developing complications.
What are the dietary and physical activity requirements during the course of diabetes management?
- Commit to healthy changes – Healthy eating and exercise should be included in the daily routine. Monitoring blood glucose and cholesterol levels, maintaining an ideal body weight, and tracking progress with the doctor are important.
- Quit smoking – Smoking increases the risk to developing heart, kidney and nerve damage.
- Drink alcohol moderately – Alcohol can lower blood sugar levels.
- Keep immunity strong – Diabetes can take a toll on your immune system. It is essential to stay up to date with all necessary vaccinations.
- Manage stress levels – Stress can disrupt normal hormone levels in the body and hinder proper functioning of insulin.
How can the complications be prevented from happening or recurring?
At early stages of diabetes or its developing complications, medication may prove sufficient in preventing further progression of the disease. The negative effects can be reversed by making necessary lifestyle changes. Patients should follow their treatment plan to keep blood glucose levels under control and ensuring long-term stability in managing the diabetic condition.
“Diabetes care: 10 ways to avoid diabetes complications,” MayoClinic.com, Mayo Clinic Staff, https://www.mayoclinic.com/health/diabetes-management/DA00008
“Diabetes Complications,” MedlinePlus, https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/diabetescomplications.html
“The Risks and Complications of Uncontrolled Diabetes,” Diabetes Health Center, WebMD.com, https://diabetes.webmd.com/risks-complications-uncontrolled-diabetes