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Diabetes: complications and symptoms

Complications Associated With Diabetes

Complications associated with Diabetes, every year millions of Americans suffer from them . Left untreated or poorly managed, diabetes can damage major organs of the body. Dangerous complications caused by diabetes include blindness, kidney damage, cardiovascular disease, and nerve damage.

Diabetes is a lifelong disease; it can only be managed. Managing diabetes does not only include taking in medicines to lower blood pressure, but a lifelong commitment to a healthy lifestyle. The danger for people who suffer from diabetes is that they ignore their medical condition and only seek help when major complications set in.

Diabetes - Kidney DamageDiabetes - Kidney Damage

Kidney damage is one of the major complications of diabetes. Research shows that three out of ten diabetic patients will suffer from kidney disease. The kidney functions for filtering blood and removes waste from the bloodstream.

Because of the high levels of blood sugar, blood vessels are exposed to greater pressures, thus damaging them in the process. People who suffer from diabetes often develop kidney disease without knowing it, as the disease may progress for years before symptoms appear.

Diabetes - Cardiovascular DiseasesDiabetes - Cardiovascular Diseases

Diabetics also face greater risks of cardiovascular diseases. Research has shown that the incidents of CVD are two to three times higher in people with diabetes. CVD continues to be the leading cause of death and hospitalization in diabetics, and symptoms of CVD are seen during initial diagnosis.

High levels of blood sugars lead to plaque buildup in the arteries, blocking normal blood supply to the major organs of the body. Overtime these deposits block blood passages, decreasing oxygen and nutrient supplies to tissues. This also increases blood pressures as blood is forced to flow through narrow blood vessels.

Diabetes -Nerve damageNerve-damage-from-Diabetes

The incidence and severity of nerve damage in diabetic patients are due to long-time exposure to the disease. Nerve damage is common, and around 60 to 70 percent of diabetic patients suffer from this. Diabetics may display symptoms such as tingling, numbness and pain in the hands, arms, legs and feet. Long-time loss of blood supply and nerve damage to the penis can also cause impotence.

Diabetes - Blindness

Major changes in the body occur for people suffering from diabetes. Changes include narrowing, hemorrhaging, hardening and severing of the veins and capillaries of the retina. This condition is also known as retinopathy which left untreated leads to blindness. Early changes include diminished vision, depth perception, narrowing visual fields and sensitivity to light. If left untreated, this leads to hemorrhages and retinal detachment, eventually leading to permanent blindness.

It usually takes between 10-13 years for diabetic retinopathy to develop, and it is present in some degree in most diabetics who have had the disease for 20 years. In only about half of the diabetics who develop it, however, is vision markedly impaired, and blindness occurs in only about 6%. Still, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults 20 to 74 years old, and is estimated to cause from 12,000 to 24,000 new cases each year. Two other complications of diabetes, cataracts and glaucoma, can also lead to loss of vision

Symptoms gradually develop after a couple of years and are only reported during their later stages. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults, and thousands of new cases are reported each year. Other eye complications associated with diabetes are cataracts and glaucoma, which can also lead to loss of vision.

Digestive Disorders

Diabetes also increases the risk of developing digestive disorders, like peptic ulcers, diverticulitis, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, gallstones and irritable bowel symptoms. Changes in blood composition and blood supply to the digestive organs affects their normal functions leading to the different digestive conditions.

Poor wound healing

diabetes-wound healingPatients with diabetes often have wounds which are difficult to heal. The main cause for poor wound healing is inadequate blood circulation. The blood contains both red and white blood cells which are responsible for nutrition and immune functions. Wound healing and normal immune functions are impeded with poor-blood circulation. This leads to longer periods of infection which may lead to major health complications.

Wound healing in patients with diabetes is poor because nutrients are unable to reach tissues. This is why diabetics are often advised to take great care not to get cut or expose themselves to risky activities. Smaller blood vessels often found in the extremities suffer first from poor blood circulation. Tissue degeneration and death occurs in the hands and feet because of poor nutrition and lack of oxygen. If this occurs, diabetics are sometimes amputated to stop the spread of infection to other parts of the body.

Simple guidelines for diabetic patients

  1. Follow religiously the diet plan which your doctor and dietician give you.
  2. Take your medicines as prescribed, taking note of the proper time and dosage of each medication.
  3. Cardiovascular diseases are one of the major complications for patients suffering from diabetes; be sure to check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  4. Check and record your daily blood glucose levels.
  5. Check your feet everyday for blisters, cuts, redness and sores.
  6. Live healthy, avoid smoking and maintain an active lifestyle. Do regular and daily exercises, but consult with your doctor first before taking any serious physical activities.

Diabetes is a lifelong disease and can only be managed. Talking about the complications and understanding how diabetes can cause them is the first step of living with the disease. Diabetes does not need to stop us from living a full and active lifestyle.

There are many serious health complications associated with diabetes. Like many other diseases, early diagnosis and following your doctor’s health guidelines could go a long way in avoiding these health problems. A person’s lifestyle continues to be the main reason why people develop diabetes. Living a healthy and active lifestyle is still a decision for everyone to make, even for people suffering from diabetes.

by Ronald Uy, RN

© 2010 H.I.C. Digestive Health

Sources:

Diabetes. Retrieved November 19, 2009 from Department of Health:  http://www.doh.gov.ph/ Long-Term Complications of Diabetes. Retrieved November 20, 2009 from TeensHealth: http://kidshealth.org/ Diabetes, Nutrition and Wound Healing. Retrieved November 21, 2009 from Health Care Industry: http://findarticles.com

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