Diabetes is a medical condition which involves the presence of an excessive amount of glucose in the blood. Over time, high blood glucose level can be responsible for damage of many of the body organs. Some of the possible complications include damage to large (Macro-vascular) and small (Micro-vascular) blood vessels which can lead to heart damage (Congestive Heart Failure, Heart Attack, Angina Pectoris), stroke, and individual level of problems with vital organs of the body such as Kidneys, Liver, Eyes, Gums, Feet, Lungs and Nerves. What is essential is to have regular check-ups and screenings to pick up the problems if in case they occur at any point in time.
The risk of most diabetes-related issues and complications can be reduced to a certain level by keeping blood pressure, blood glucose, blood cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in control and within the specified range. Also, not putting on the extra weight, not being obese, eating healthy, and adopting a healthy lifestyle, reducing the alcohol content in the body and not smoking shall also help in reducing the risk. Change in the lifestyle from unhealthy to healthier one can itself reduce the risk of long term complications in the body that might have to occur.
9 Long Term Effects of Diabetes:
The most common effects or consequences that are caused as a result of long term diabetes are the damages caused to the blood vessels of heart, brain, and legs, which are macro-vascular health problems. Along with the damage to the blood vessels of eyes, kidneys, feet, and nerves, which are microvascular complications. Apart from these, diabetes can also affect other parts of the body and largely affect the immune system of the body.
- Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease: Blood vessel disease, heart attack, heart failure, stroke are all the disorders of the human cardiovascular system that may happen due to the prolonged effect of diabetes. The risks of such cardiovascular disorders are higher for people with diabetes who have high cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Smoking can increase the risk; having a family history of cardiovascular disorders can increase the risk, and being inactive can also increase the risk. To reduce the risk and pick up the problems well in time, blood pressure should be checked at least every three months and even more often if the patient is on the prescription of anti-hypertensive drugs. Cholesterol checks should be made, and levels should be well under control.
- Eye Disease and Diabetes: Eye diseases with diabetes include retinopathy, macular edema, cataracts, glaucoma. While people who have damage to their eyes have no symptoms in the earlier stages and certain symptoms that occur may even need an urgent review. Every patient of diabetes should get their eyes checked by an ophthalmologist or optometrist in a professional eye examination when they are diagnosed at first and later after every two years at least. It is important to inform the doctor about the prevalence of diabetes in a patient.
- Kidney Damage and Diabetes: Due to changes in the small blood vessels, people with diabetes are at the risk of Kidney damage (Nephropathy). Until advanced, kidney disease does not produce any possible symptoms as they don’t produce any pain. The important part is screening. By checking the micro-albumin levels in the urine at least once a year, Kidney damage can be diagnosed early.
- Nerve Damage and Diabetes: Nerve Damage is caused by high blood glucose levels, although similar nerve damage can also be caused as a result from drinking and consumption of a large amount of alcohol, Vitamin B12 Deficiency (Due to long term use of the diabetes medication – Metformin). This damage can be prevented by keeping blood sugar levels in the target range. Drinking alcohol should be within the recommended guidelines, and smoking should be stopped.
- Foot Problems and Diabetes: When the blood supply in both the large and small blood vessel is reduced, the feet of someone with diabetes are at risk. Peripheral Neuropathy is nerve damage often results in the problems to the feet. Even a problem to the structure of the foot can also occur. Clawed toes are an example. Diabetic patients should see a podiatrist at least once a year. Blood supply would be checked by them, and changes in the structure of the feet shall be examined by them.
- Skin Problems and Diabetes: It is a common problem with patients of diabetes. People may experience dehydrated skin due to damage to the small blood vessels and nerves. It may further lead to cracks in the skin and may cause infections. Blood sugar and HbA1c should be kept in control within the recommended ranges to reduce the risk of skin infections. Gloves should be worn when household cleaners and solvents are used by the patients. Scalding baths and showers should be avoided.
- Teeth and Gum Problems with Diabetes: People with poorly managed diabetes are at increased risk of tooth decay and gum infections. This is because of the small blood vessels that reach our gums get infected and become damaged. Risk can be reduced by seeing the dentist regularly for a check-up. Teeth should be brushed twice a day.
- Thyroid Problems and Diabetes: Patients with either type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes are at an increased risk of thyroid disease. This includes both overactive thyroid and an underactive thyroid.
- Sexual Dysfunction and Diabetes: Sexual Function can be affected because of a reduced supply of blood in blood vessels. It may cause erectile dysfunction in men sexual dysfunction in women.
It is thus important to keep in check all the symptoms that you, as a diabetic patient, might face and report it to the doctor as soon as it occurs in the body. Regular checkups and screenings can help in diagnosing the diseases at the right time, and their possible treatment can be started, which can lead to avoidance of any further complications.
Diabetes and Healthy Eating
For diabetes patients, it is important to include a wide variety of nutritious and healthy foods in their diet. They should avoid snacking and the consumption of sugary food. Blood pressure, Blood glucose, and cholesterol levels can be kept in control by eating healthy and adopting a healthy lifestyle and habits. The food groups have an amazing array of foods to offer. This wide variety of food from various food types should be enjoyed by people and diabetic patients. Inclusion of foods that are high in fiber and low in fat should be made sure in the daily diets. Salt intake needs to be reduced as well.
Regular Diabetes tests and screening checks:
- Blood Pressure
- Blood glucose levels including HbA1c
- Cholesterol and Triglyceride levels
- Kidney Function
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