What Are the Complications of Diabetes?

Diabetes complications, like eye disease, skin infection, etc. can occur. Maintain a healthy lifestyle and work with your doctor to control blood sugar levels.

When you eat or drink something, your body uses sugars in your food to make glucose that travels through your bloodstream to provide you with energy. However, your body cannot handle this process unless there is enough insulin in your blood – your pancreas secretes this hormone. When you have diabetes, your pancreas may produce too little insulin or produce nothing at all. Sometimes, your body loses its ability to use whatever insulin is available in an effective way. It means that your body fails to break down sugars, which will lead to an increase in blood glucose levels. Overtime, you may develop certain diabetes complications.

Complications of Diabetes

When you have diabetes, your body cannot handle sugar properly. It means that you will not have enough energy to handle your daily tasks. There can be many other complications too.

1.    Cardiovascular Disease

People with Type-2 diabetes usually also have high blood pressure or hypertension. Your body uses different mechanisms to lower those increased levels of glucose in your bloodstream. It also tries to accomplish this by retaining more fluid in the blood vessels, which can increase pressure within the vessels and lead to hypertension. Overtime, this pressure weakens your circulatory system and causes chronic blood flow problems in peripheral parts of the body. An increase in insulin levels can also increase your risk of developing hypertension, aneurysm, heart attack, and stroke.

2.    Eye Disease

Not getting any treatment for diabetes can cause serious eye related problems, including reduced vision and blindness. Diabetes is the most common cause of acquired blindness in elderly people. Diabetes can damage blood vessels and nerves in the retina, which can cause Diabetic Retinopathy. People with diabetes may also have abnormal growth of capillaries in the back of the eye that can weaken vision. It is possible to prevent vision problems when diabetes is identified early.

3.    Nerve Damage

Neuropathy or nerve damage is among the most common complications of diabetes. Too much sugar in your blood can damage the peripheral nervous system and affect your extremities. You may notice tingling, pain, or buzzing sensations in your feet or hands. Loss of sensation in the limbs is also a possibility. Some patients lose bladder control and fail to walk on their own. Erectile dysfunction may also occur in men.

4.    Kidney Disease

The kidneys help eliminate impurities from your blood, but too much sugar in your blood may accumulate in your kidneys and affect tiny blood vessels that can lead to diabetic nephropathy. Kidney failure is also a serious complication associated with diabetes.

5.    Joint and Foot Problems

Compromised blood flow in the limbs, nerve damage, and reduced sensation in the feet can cause several foot and joint related problems. You may experience damage to joints because it is sometimes not possible to feel pain properly due to nerve damage. Some people develop ulcers of the feet, which when left untreated can cause serious complications and even require amputation. If you have diabetes, you should take special care of your feet and check them regularly for any problem.

6.    Infection of the Skin

When it comes to complications of diabetes, you may have to deal with a variety of skin problems. Many people develop bacterial and fungal skin infections. Skin spotting is also common. You develop these conditions due to chronically elevated blood glucose levels. It is possible to treat these conditions by keeping blood glucose levels under control. It is also possible to develop other types of infections because diabetes can lower your immunity and affect your ability to fight common infections. It is a good idea to get pneumococcal vaccine and influenza vaccinations to build immunity against these infections.

7.    Cognitive Issues

Fluctuations in blood sugar levels can also affect the brain and lead to a number of memory problems. It also increases your risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Type-1 diabetes can make it difficult for young patients to perform mental arithmetic. It is possible to reverse these conditions by controlling sugar levels.

8.    Complications of Gestational Diabetes

It is possible to develop gestational diabetes even when you never had diabetes before becoming pregnant. However, women with gestational diabetes generally face no issue when giving birth. You may experience problems though when you leave your diabetes untreated and do nothing to keep blood sugar levels under control. Fluctuations in blood sugar levels can affect your baby in many ways. For instance:

  • Too much sugar in the blood can cross the placenta and stimulate your baby's pancreas to make insulin, resulting in excess growth. You are likely to have a C-section in case your baby grows too large.
  • Babies of mothers with gestational diabetes are at an increased risk of developing Type-2 diabetes later in life.
  • Not getting gestational diabetes treated properly can also lead to a baby's death – it could happen before or after birth.

Just like babies, there can be some complications of diabetes in mothers. For instance:

  • You may develop preeclampsia due to gestational diabetes. This condition causes your blood pressure to go up. There may also be protein excreted through urine. Some women also develop swelling in the feet and legs. When left untreated, preeclampsia can cause life-threatening complications.
  • It is possible to have subsequent gestational diabetes if you develop it in one pregnancy. In fact, there is a high possibility that you will have it in your very next pregnancy as well. Subsequent gestational diabetes can eventually lead to type-2 diabetes in some cases.

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