If you have been diagnosed with Diabetes, you are at high risk of developing serious complications like heart attacks, strokes, blindness, amputations and kidney failure. The only way to prevent is through good control to be achieved and maintained throughout life. In order to reach this goal we have to control blood glucose, blood pressure and lipids and life style.
People with diabetes are at higher risk of developing heart disease than others. Without proper medical care, it can easily escalate and result in serious complications leading to loss of life ,50% of persons with diabetes die of heart disease annually.
Heart disease may present itself in the following ways:
Pain or discomfort in the center of the chest on exertion, relieved by rest
Longer lasting central chest pain (more than 30mins)
Often radiating down the left arm
Shortness of breath
Sweating, nausea, light-headedness
Symptoms may be mild or absent in persons with diabetes due to nerve damage where you can have a silent heart attack.
If you have any of these symptoms seek immediate medical attention.
A stroke usually happens when blood supply to part of the brain is compromised. Any part of the brain can be affected and it can cause unilateral symptoms such as partial or complete paralysis. It’s important to know that if you have diabetes, your risk of a stroke is 2 – 4 times higher than that of a person who does not have diabetes.
Elevated blood pressure and cholesterol often contributes to the development of these complications in addition to high blood glucose.
Kidney Disease (Nephropathy)
Kidneys have millions of tiny blood vessels that act as filters which removes waste products from the blood. High levels of blood glucose damages this filtering system which leaks useful proteins into urine which is known as microalbuminurea. This leads to kidney damage and failure.
Good blood glucose and blood pressure control can prevent the development of end stage kidney disease.
Diabetes can lead to several different eye complications from minor eye disorders to complete blindness. Some of the common complications include diabetic retinopathy. glaucoma and cataracts.
1. Diabetic retinopathy
Refers to all disorders related to the retina [back of the eye], caused by diabetes. Two main categories of retinal disorders are; proliferative and non-proliferative. Proliferative Retinopathy is when blood vessels in the retina are damaged to the point where they close up. To combat this, new blood vessels start growing in the retina. These new blood vessels are weak and can start leaking blood. This can progress to a point where the retina is pulled out of place. This advanced stage is called retinal detachment.
Non-proliferative retinopathy is when capillaries in the back of the eye, balloon and form pouches. This can become severe as more and more blood vessels maybe involved.
People with diabetes are about 60% more likely to suffer from cataracts. Cataract is the clouding of the clear lens in the eye. People with diabetes tend to develop cataracts at a younger age and progress faster than those without diabetes. Clouding of the eye [ cobweb like formation] can develop to a point where it is impossible for a person to see.
People with diabetes are at a higher risk of glaucoma. Approximately 40% of persons with diabetes are likely to suffer from glaucoma. Glaucoma occurs when pressure builds up in the eye. Loss of vision is gradual and caused by damage to the retina and optic nerve and can produce a severe headache.
Neuropathy (Nerve Damage)
Neuropathy refers to nerve damage caused by diabetes. Pain, tingling and loss of sensation are most common in feet and can lead to undetected foot injuries, infections and even loss of limbs due to amputation.
Nerve damage can also lead to impotence, which is a major psychosocial problem.
Diabetes can affect any part of your body including your skin. Here are some of the general skin conditions that can occur due to diabetes:
- Infections (Fungal/Bacteria)
If you are diagnosed with diabetes and blood glucose levels are not managed correctly, you are more likely to develop serious gum disease and loose more teeth than someone without diabetes. Like most infections, serious gum disease may be a factor in causing blood sugar to rise and make diabetes harder to control.
People with diabetes are three times more likely to be diagnosed with depression. Depression could be a presenting symptom or an aftermath of uncontrolled diabetes and needs to be brought out in the discussion and corrected appropriately.