Diabetes Complications

The number of potential diabetes complications related to poor control of diabetes are numerous. I will highlight a few of the main ones here that are absolutely critical to stay on top of. Diabetes is similar to high blood pressure in that it is really a silent killer. Diabetes complications can go undetected because the symptoms may not be noticeable until they have advanced to a late stage. Those who are dealing with brittle diabetes over a long period of time are also more likely to suffer complications. However, If you are vigilant about keeping your blood sugar under control, you can avoid many of these diabetes complications or at least arrest their progression.

The main long term complications of diabetes are as follows :

Diabetic Neuropathy

Neuropathy is the most common complication of diabetes and is a major factor contributing to foot and limb amputations. Diabetes foot care, especially, must be given high priority to try to prevent complications down the road. According to the ADA, after 25 years of having diabetes, 1 out of every 2 persons will have some degree of nerve damage. Too much glucose in the blood over long periods of time causes nerve damage or neuropathy. The body's nervous system controls virtually everything that we do --- from moving your muscles and digesting food to breathing and thinking. The nerves act as the body's electrical circuit. While diabetes doesn't usually impair the central nervous system made up of the brain and spinal cord, the nerves in the rest of nervous system can be damaged. They may be unable to send messages or send them at the wrong time or send them too fast or too slow. The effects of this damage can be far reaching from pain in your hands, feet, thighs and face to trouble with digestion or bladder and bowel control.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in the US. Diabetic eye disease, which is commonly referred to as retinopathy, is more common in people with type 1 diabetes but people who have type 2 diabetes for many years can also develop it. People with diabetes are 4 times more likely to go blind than people without diabetes. According to the ADA, after 25 years of having diabetes, 4 out of 5 people will have some degree of eye damage.

Diabetic Nephropathy

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure in the US. According to the ADA, after 15 years of having diabetes,1 out of every 3 people with type 1 diabetes and 1 out of every 5 people with type 2 diabetes will have some degree of kidney damage. Kidney disease is more common in those people with a family history of high blood pressure. Among people with type 2 diabetes, Asian Americans, African Americans, and Hispanic Americans have a higher risk of kidney disease than Caucasians.

Heart Disease and Stroke

More people with diabetes die from heart attacks than from all other causes of death combined. Most of the cardiovascular complications related to diabetes have to do with a blockage or slowdown in blood flow throughout the body. Diabetes can change the chemical makeup of some of the substances found in blood and this can cause the openings in blood vessels to narrow or to clog completely. This is called atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries and diabetes seems to speed this up.When the vessels narrow or clog, the blood supply to the heart, brain, and other tissues and organs can be restricted. A complete stoppage of the flow of blood to the heart results in a heart attack. When the blood flows to the brain is cut off, this can cause a stroke.

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