Diabetes Complications: Symptoms & Management
Table of Contents
Complications of Diabetes Mellitus
When I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at 28-year-old. I didn’t take it too seriously until I started experiencing tingling in my fingers and pain in my heels. I wasn’t sure what was causing this until I did some research and realized that my type 2 diabetes was causing these symptoms. Once I unattended a call with my diabetes counsellor at Diabefly. I realized that this was just the tip of the iceberg. The complications that arise from untreated diabetes can affect almost every organ in your body. It is worrying how little awareness exists about the same.
India as a nation is on a fast track to becoming the largest diabetic population in the world. The condition – marked by high blood glucose levels – leaves behind a series of hyperglycemia complications in its wake. The long-term effects of high blood sugar not only affect one’s day-to-day living but also increases the risk of acute and chronic complications one may have to face in the longer run.
Diabetes mellitus is categorized into different types, depending upon the cause, but the underlying factor remains the same – compromised or high blood sugar levels leading to all sorts of health complications. Now, before going further into details, let us first understand the role of glucose and how these hyperglycemia complications are caused.
What causes diabetes mellitus?
Glucose (sugar) is an energy source for the cells which gets absorbed into the bloodstream with the help of insulin. Insulin is a hormone generated by our pancreas which enables the circulation of glucose in our blood as well as keeps a check on its level. Our body meets its glucose requirements via two avenues: the food we eat and the glycogen that is produced and stored in our liver.
Complications of diabetes mellitus occur when our cells become resistant to the action of insulin and the pancreas is not able to produce enough insulin to compensate for this lack. So, instead of going to the cells, glucose starts getting collected in the bloodstream. The high blood sugar level in the bloodstream is referred to as hyperglycemia whereas low levels of blood glucose are called hypoglycemia.
What are the various types of diabetes?
Broadly speaking, there are two categories of diabetes: chronic and potentially reversible. Chronic diabetes can either be type 1 or type 2.
1. Type 1 diabetes:
It can develop at any age, though it often appears during childhood or adolescence. A combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental factors results in disintegration or malfunctioning of the immune system due to which the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas are wiped out, thus, increasing the blood glucose level exponentially.
2. Type 2 diabetes:
It is the more prevalent one and can develop at any age, though more commonly, above the age of 40. People with a family history, or those with higher BMI are more prone to it. Being overweight and/or obese also increases complications due to diabetes mellitus.
Prediabetes is the stage where your blood glucose level is higher than normal but not high enough to put you into the chronic category. If not managed well, it can inevitably lead to type 2 diabetes. However, it has the potential to be reversed with the help of proper interventions.
4. Gestational diabetes:
It occurs during pregnancy when the placenta tends to produce certain hormones that make your cells more resistant to insulin. However, this may reverse after childbirth.
What are the symptoms of diabetes mellitus?
Increased thirst and frequent urination are the most prevalent symptoms of diabetes mellitus, apart from extreme hunger, unexplained weight fluctuations, blurred vision, fatigue, and slow-healing wounds and sores. Getting frequent infections, especially skin, gums, or vaginal infections are also indications of diabetes mellitus. High ketone level in urine is also one of the symptoms; ketone is a result of muscle and fat breakdown due to lack of insulin in the body.
What are the risk factors?
- Family history
- Compromised immune system
- Age and weight
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
What all complications arise due to diabetes mellitus?
Diabetes can create an array of acute and chronic complications of diabetes mellitus. Cardiovascular diseases and nerve damage top the list of hyperglycemia complications. Therefore, it is important to take steps to prevent it. Prolonged unmanaged blood glucose levels can also lead to disabling or life-threatening hyperglycemia complications.
1. Cardiovascular diseases (CVD):
If you have diabetes, you are more prone to suffer a heart attack or a stroke. Diabetes and cholesterol are interconnected and can lead to coronary artery disease with chest pain and narrowing of the arteries.
Nerve damage is a hyperglycemia complication. The increased sugar in the blood damages the blood vessels, especially in your legs, resulting in tingling, pain, and numbness in your feet and legs. If left unchecked, it can also lead to erectile dysfunction in men.
Complications of diabetes mellitus can also lead to kidney damage. High blood sugar damages the filtration system in the kidneys, which has a high probability of kidney failure resulting in dialysis.
Eye damage is also one of the hyperglycemia complications that can lead to potential blindness. Diabetes also increases the risk of other vision-related complications like cataracts and glaucoma.
Alzheimer’s disease, skin conditions, depression, and hearing impairment are also serious and long-term complications of diabetes mellitus with a prolonged impact on your overall health and wellbeing.
How can the long-term complications of diabetes mellitus be treated?
Getting regular blood tests done with proper follow-up check-ups is the most responsible thing one can do for themselves. Apart from following a doctor’s prescription, one needs to focus on weight management, diet management, portion control, and proper exercise. This is the only way one can ensure a safe distance from complications of diabetes mellitus.
Early diagnosis and effective management can prevent diabetes complications. The traditional approach of medicines can help temporarily lower your blood sugar levels. However, real and sustainable changes in your blood sugar levels can only come from lifestyle changes. A comprehensive diabetes reversal(if you are eligible) or management plan can help you postpone or completely avoid the risk of diabetes complications. Such a plan must not only take into account diet and exercise. But also sleep and stress management. Fitterfly’s programs Diabefly Pro and Diabefly Reverse can help you with their proven scientific approach. What are you waiting for? Start your journey today!