Easy ways to manage your type 1 and 2 diabetes complications
Diabetes occurs when your body cannot absorb the glucose (sugar) in your cells and use it for energy, leading to a build-up of extra glucose in the blood. Poorly controlled diabetes can have serious outcomes and damage different organs and tissues in the body, including the heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves. Diabetes has multiple long-term complications that develop gradually over a period of time. The longer a person is diabetic and the lesser control he has on his blood sugar, the higher is the risk of complications.
In this article, Dr Tushar Tayal, one of the best diabetologists/Critical care specialists at CK Birla Hospital, will discuss serious and long term complications of diabetes mellitus and how to prevent complications of diabetes?
Following your diabetes treatment plan requires constant commitment. But your efforts are worth it. Careful diabetes care can reduce the risk of serious and even fatal complications.
Some common leading complications of diabetes mellitus are:
- Heart diseases: Different types of heart diseases, which include coronary artery disease, stroke, narrowing of arteries, heart attack and stroke are more likely to develop among diabetics than non-diabetic people.
- Nerve damage or neuropathy: Excess sugar in the blood can cause injuries to the wall of the blood vessels, especially the legs. This can lead to tingling sensation, numbness, pain or burning sensation in limbs which may gradually spread upwards. If left untreated, this can lead to loss of sensation in the affected limbs. When nerves of the digestive system are affected, they may cause digestive disorders. It can lead to erectile dysfunction among males too.
- Nephropathy: Nephropathy or damage to the kidney is another important complication of diabetes. Glomeruli in the kidneys can get damaged due to excess blood sugar. Severe damage to the Kidney can lead to irreversible kidney failure which might even call for the need for a kidney transplant or dialysis.
- Retinopathy: Diabetes can lead to damage to the blood vessels supplying the retina, leading to blindness. Diabetes also predisposes to other vision-related conditions like cataracts and glaucoma.
- Skin complications: Diabetes can lead to various skin complications if left untreated. Cuts and blisters might develop in the feet due to reduced sensation, which might take very long to heal and can ultimately lead to amputation. Diabetes also predisposes to infections caused by bacteria and fungus.
- People affected with diabetes are more prone to hearing impairment.
- Diabetes also increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
- Symptoms of depression are common among diabetics and can also affect the management of diabetes in the long run .
Type 1 diabetes complications
There are a few things that are related to type 1 diabetes complications, including;
- Heart and blood vessel disease. Diabetes increases the risk of several cardiovascular problems such as heart attack, coronary artery disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis).
- Nerve damage (neuropathy). Damage to the nerves that affect the gastrointestinal tract can cause nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, or constipation. It can cause erectile dysfunction in men.
- Kidney damage (nephropathy). It can affect the filtering system of the body.
- Eye damage. Diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the retina (which is also known as diabetic retinopathy), leading to blindness. It also increases the risk of other vision conditions like glaucoma and cataracts.
- Foot damage. Poor blood flow or nerve damage in the feet increases the risk of various foot complications. If these complications are left untreated, cuts and blisters can become severe infections that may require foot, toe, or leg amputation.
- Skin and mouth conditions. Diabetes may lead to skin and mouth infections, including bacterial and fungal infections or gum disease.
- Pregnancy complications. High blood sugar levels can be dangerous for both the baby and the mother. If diabetes isn’t well-controlled, it increases the risk of miscarriage, birth defects, and stillbirth.
Type 2 diabetes complications
There are a few things that are related to type 2 diabetes complications, including;
- Slow healing. If cuts and blisters are left untreated, they become serious infections, which may heal poorly.
- Hearing impairment. Hearing difficulties are more common in diabetic patients.
- Sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is common in type 2 diabetic patients. Being overweight may contribute to both conditions.
- Dementia. Type 2 diabetic patients have a high risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other diseases that cause dementia. Inadequate control of blood sugar levels is linked to a decrease in memory and other thinking skills
Kidney complications of diabetes
There are several kidney complications of diabetes (diabetic nephropathy) that may develop gradually over months or years. These kidney complications of diabetes may include:
- Fluid retention leading to swelling of arms and legs, fluid in the lungs (pulmonary oedema), and high blood pressure
- Increase in blood potassium levels (hyperkalemia)
- Cardiovascular disease leading to stroke
- Blood vessels damage of the retina (diabetic retinopathy)
- Foot sores, diarrhoea, and erectile dysfunction
- Pregnancy complications to both the mother and the developing baby
- Irreversible damage to the kidneys ultimately need either a kidney transplant or dialysis for survival
Diabetes elderly complications
Older people are more likely to have other health problems that affect their diabetes and make it more difficult to control. Some conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and peripheral vascular disease.
Older people with diabetes are likely to have high blood sugar for a longer period, which leads to more damage and complications to their blood vessels.
Older people with diabetes are more affected by complications, and complications can be more difficult to manage.
Being less mobile and less active can make it difficult for older people to adopt healthy lifestyle measures to help manage their diabetes. Likewise, other medical conditions such as arthritis can affect an older person’s ability to cook healthy meals or be physically active.
Unfortunately, diabetes makes older people more prone to eye damage, kidney disease, and the risk of needing an amputation.
Types of diabetes complication screening
A doctor advised that, for adults, at least once a year checkup is necessary for the following complications of diabetes mellitus:
- Eye problems (diabetic retinopathy) by retinopathy screening
- Cholesterol screening
- Blood pressure screening
- Nerve damage and circulation by foot examinations
- Kidney disease screening (diabetic nephropathy)
Tips to manage some leading complications of diabetes mellitus include:
- Manage and monitor your blood sugar regularly. Follow doctors’ prescriptions and take diabetes medication as advised.
- Maintain healthy body weight. Overweight people are more likely to develop complications as a result of diabetes.
- Quit smoking. Smoking increases the chances of infection, heart diseases, nephropathy, neuropathy, and stroke among people suffering from diabetes.
- Maintain blood pressure and keep cholesterol levels under check. Complications associated with high blood pressure and cholesterol are worsened when coupled with diabetes.
- Conduct regular eye checkups to screen for the possibility of retinopathy, cataract or other eye disorders
- Get regular health checkups to ensure that the condition is not affecting the kidneys or nervous system and prevent complications.
- Take regular vaccines as and when required. Diabetic people are more prone to be affected by seasonal and other illnesses, hence, taking vaccines can help in preventing untoward illnesses.
- Diabetes often predisposes to gum problems. Bleeding of gum can be common. Hence maintaining good oral hygiene is important to prevent dental troubles.
- Take proper care of your feet as any cuts and blisters can take too long to heal and might lead to the spread of infection.
- Reduce stress. Practice yoga or meditate to keep yourself stress-free.
It is important to consult your doctor right away whenever you feel you show any signs or symptoms of diabetes complications. For more information on long term complications of diabetes mellitus or any personal enquiry with Dr Tushar Tayal, you can book an appointment or call at +91 124 4882248.