Complications of Diabetes

What You Need To Know About Diabetes Complications

When you have diabetes, it is essential to follow your doctor's advice. There are diabetes complications that can be serious, and some can even be life-threatening. When you know about the possible complications, you can take steps to stay healthy.

Diabetes Complications And Your Eyes

Diabetics have a higher risk of eye problems. Common examples include glaucoma, cataracts, and complications associated with Retinopathy. People who suffer from diabetes are 40% more likely to have glaucoma then people without diabetes. The risk of glaucoma also increases with age. 

Diabetic Retinopathy is a term that describes all of the disorders of the retina caused by diabetes. The two major types are:

1) Nonproliferative Retinopathy- This is the most common form of retinopathy. The capillaries in the back of the eye balloon and form pourches. As more blood vessels become blocked, the stages will progress from mild, moderate to severe.​

2) Proliferative Retinopathy-​ Retinopthy progresses in some people and becomes more serious. This form is called proliferative retinopathy. The blood vessels become so damaged that they close off. Your eyes respond by growing new blood vessels in the retina but these new vessels are weak and can leak blood which blocks vision. This condition is referred to as vitreous hemorrhage. 

Treatment Options- A lot of progress has been made in treating patients with retinopathy. Treatments include focal photocoagulaton, scatter photocoagulation and vitrectomy which can prevent blindness in most people. 

Risk Factors for Retinopathy:

  • How Long You Have Had Diabetes
  • Blood Sugar Control
  • Blood Pressure Levels
  • Genes 

Most type 1 diabetics will end up with nonproliferative retinopathy  and most type 2 diabetics will also get it. By keeping blood sugar levels closer to normal people with diabetes will have a milder form. With proper care, you can avoid vision loss. Keep your glucose levels stable.

Follow your doctor's advice to avoid or reduce high blood pressure. Do not smoke. Visit your eye doctor once every year, but make an appointment if you notice any changes in your vision.

Diabetes Complications And Your Skin

There are numerous skin conditions that are related to diabetes. Contact your physician if you notice any changes in your skin. Fungal infections, bacterial infections, unusual itching, blisters, and rashes are some examples.

Diabetes Complications And Gastroparesis

Gastroparesis can worsen with diabetes. This disorder affects people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Contact your doctor if you have no appetite, experience bloating, lose weight when you are not dieting, feel full when you have eaten very little, or experience vomiting, nausea, or heartburn.These symptoms can be dangerous for a diabetic.

The vagus nerve controls the movement of food through the digestive tract and if it stops working or becomes damaged, the stomach muscles and intestines will not work properly. When food remains in your stomach too long, an overgrowth of bacteria can occur. Food may not pass into your intestines. Any problems connected to your digestive system should be brought to your doctor's immediate attention.

Signs and Symptoms to Watch For with Gastroparesis:​ 

  • Nausea
  • Heartburn
  • Vomiting Undigested Food
  • Feeling Full When Starting to Eat
  • Weight Loss
  • Bloating of the abdominal area
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Spasms of the stomach wall
  • Erratic Sugar Levels (Blood Glucose)

Other Serious Health Problems

Diabetes increases your risk of a stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetic ketoacidosis, hypertension, and occasionally mental health issues. While women can develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy, women who are already diabetic when they become pregnant have special needs for prenatal care and during childbirth.

​Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)

This is a serious condition that can cause diabetics to pass out for long periods of time or even cause death. It is also known as diabetic coma. Your cells need glucose for energy. When they do not get what they need, your body will begin to burn fat to get energy, which produces keytones.  As they build up in the blood, they will become more acidic. Keytones are a warning sign from your body that your diabetes is out of control.  

When keytone levels become too high, they will poison your body and you can develop DKA. This is much more common in type 1 diabetes but type 2 diabetics can get it.  You can prevent this from happening by checking your blood and urine regularly.  DKA will develop slowly most of the time but if vomiting occurs, a life threatening condition can happen in just a few hours.

Early symptoms to watch for are:

  • A very dry mouth​ or excessive thirst
  • Having to urinate frequently
  • High levels of ketones in the urine
  • High Blood Glucose Levels

Other symptoms will appear after the initial onset of symptoms such as tiredness, flushed skin, abdominal pain, vomiting nausea, difficulty breathing, confusion and fruity odor on your breath.​

Warning:If you or someone you know that is diabetic is experiencing these symptoms, get immediate medical care at the emergency room or contact your health provider. Do not ignore these symptoms as they can be very serious.​ 

​You can read more on Diabetic Ketoacidosis here. 

Diabetes Complications And Your Feet

You may have heard a diabetic must take special care of his feet. There are a number of reasons you should keep your feet clean and dry at all times.

Diabetics are prone to a condition known as diabetic neuropathy. Although this nerve damage can occur anywhere within your body, it can be a significant problem if it affects your feet. Nerve damage in your feet can cause weakness, numbness, pain, or a tingling sensation.

This problem is more than uncomfortable. It can affect your overall quality of life.In addition, when your feet are numb, you may not notice blisters or other issues that can harm your feet. Even an infection may proceed unnoticed until it causes serious problems.

When your blood glucose levels are too high, you may also develop poor circulation. This can affect your arteries, and may result in a stroke or a heart attack.Approximately 50% of diabetics have nerve damage. While you should follow your physician's recommendations for diet, blood-glucose monitoring, and lifestyle factors, you can also invest in diabetic footwear to keep your feet healthy and avoid unnecessary problems.

Benefits Of Diabetic Socks And Shoes

Diabetic socks will keep your feet dry. The special material keeps perspiration away from your skin. Your feet will stay cleaner and drier for a longer period of time. It will reduce your risk of irritation and infections.

Diabetic socks promote healthy blood circulation. There is no tight binding, and they are not as restrictive as basic socks. Better circulation and healthier blood flow can prevent many serious problems.

Basic socks contain seams. This can cause irritation, and, in some cases, blisters, cuts, or pain. As diabetic socks are seamless, there is less irritation to your feet.

The wrinkle-proof material of diabetic socks will reduce pressure on your feet. Walking will be easier, and you will be less prone to developing blisters.

Diabetic shoes are a lighter weight than traditional shoes. They have a better fit so they are comfortable. The deeper, wider shoes promote healthier blood circulation, and helps you avoid perspiration that could cause an infection.

The shoes are soft and comfortable, and the insoles prevent unnecessary pressure on your feet. Diabetic shoes can prevent calluses that could become ulcers.

Diabetic Foot Care

Foot care tips can help keep your feet healthy.

  • Check your feet each day for cracked skin, sores, or color changes.
  • If you have developed nerve damage, check the water temperature in your tub before taking a bath.
  • Avoid going barefoot. Both indoors and outdoors, there are foreign objects that could scrape or cut your feet.

If you develop a foot problem, visit your doctor immediately. A callus or a scrape can increase your risk of an infection. Exercise is important, but choose activities that do not place extreme pressure on your feet.

Tips To Avoid Diabetic Complications

As nicotine decreases blood circulation, do not smoke. If you are a smoker, ask your doctor for help quitting.

Keep your blood sugar under control with your diet and monitoring.

See your doctor regularly for examinations.

Adhere to the diet your physician recommends, as well as his advice for exercise and other lifestyle issues.

Some of the health problems connected to diabetes can be life-threatening. When it comes to your feet, though, amputation is not as rare as you may believe. It is not impossible to lose your leg, your foot, or your toes due to complications from diabetes.

It may not occur as frequently as it did in the past, as more people are taking appropriate steps to stay healthy, and access to medical care and exams is available to diabetics today.

Diabetes does not have to mean a lower quality of life, a shorter lifespan, or complications. When you visit your health care provider regularly, follow his advice at home, and stay alert to any signs of complications, you increase your chance of a healthier life.

When you are monitoring your glucose levels, eating a healthy diet, and making moderate exercise a part of your daily life, take another sensible step to a healthier lifestyle by investing in diabetic shoes and socks. They can greatly reduce your risk of foot problems, help you stay healthy, and can be found in sizes that are right for you.