DIABETES COMPLICATIONS

SHORT AND LONG-TERM COMPLICATIONS OF DIABETES

Diabetes complications vary and are usually either short-term or long-term. At Valiant Clinic & Hospital, managing complications and ensuring our patients’ health are our top priorities, which is why our dedicated team of nurses and doctors not only aids patients with Diabetes but also provides them with the utmost care to help them get them through these complications swiftly and safely.

Short-term complications

HYPOGLYCEMIA

This represents a condition where your blood sugar, also known as glucose, is lower than normal. Because glucose represents your main energy source, the lack of it causes a toll on your body. Symptoms of Hypoglycemia include shakiness, loss of consciousness, fatigue, hunger, headaches, blurry vision, and many others. It is often treated by eating the right types of food and taking sugary drinks and glucose tablets or sweets.

HYPERGLYCEMIA

This condition reflects high blood sugar, typically because the body lacks insulin. It can be caused due to missing out on a dose of insulin or eating too much carbohydrates, and it can also be the result of stress or infection. Symptoms include frequent urination, feeling thirsty, vomiting, rapid heartbeats, vision problems, headaches, and fatigue, and it is typically treated by increasing insulin intake while ensuring medical advice and surveillance

DIABETIC KETOACIDOSIS (DKA)

This a serious complication and a life-threatening emergency that’s more common with Type 1 diabetes. Typically caused by a lack of insulin, this forces your cells to rely on the fat in your body as their energy source. When the fat is used instead of sugar, your body will produce high levels of blood acids called “Ketones.” The symptoms of this complication include confusion, frequent urination, stomach pain, weakness or fatigue, excessive thirst shortness of breath, etc. DKA can often happen around the time that Type 1 diabetes is first diagnosed and can also occur during an illness, at puberty, or if an insulin injection has been missed. It rapidly becomes worse over 24 hours, and it’s essential to get to a hospital as fast as possible

HYPEROSMOLAR HYPERGLYCEMIC STATE

(HHS) is more common with people who have Type 2 diabetes. It’s also a serious and life-threatening emergency that is associated with high blood glucose levels. Because patients can develop nausea and are often dehydrated when faced with this complication, it can often worsen over time. It can be caused by stopping medication during illness or the illness itself can cause hormones to become unbalanced and glucose levels to rise in the bloodstream.

Long-term complications

EYE PROBLEMS (RETINOPATHY)

This complication comes as a result of high blood sugar levels that cause damage to the back of the eye, also known as the retina, where it leads to blindness if left undiagnosed or untreated. Additionally, smoking is considered to have an impact on this complication when patients who have high blood sugar absorb nicotine.

HEART PROBLEMS (CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE)

High glucose levels cause significant damage. They affect blood vessels, cause high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels. Consequently, in the long-run, patients are more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and strokes. Thus, it’s necessary to maintain a healthy diet and weight, regular exercise, and stop smoking to avoid this complication.

MACROVASCULAR DISEASE

This is a result of hyperglycemia, excess free fatty acid, and insulin resistance. It causes damage to the arteries and veins that transport blood away from the heart as well as capillaries, where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged.

ARTERIOSCLEROSIS OR ATHEROSCLEROSIS

These conditions cause blood flow restriction because when cholesterol and other fatty substances build up on the walls of blood vessels they can narrow the arteries. In some cases, a tear in the artery walls may occur and the blood cells, known as platelets, will attempt to repair the damage. But these efforts may in turn cause blood clots to take form. And with time, blood vessel walls lose flexibility, which can be a factor in high blood pressure (hypertension), which further damages the blood vessels. Further damage may force the body to stop receiving the oxygen it needs due to artery blockage. This can result in heart attacks, strokes or peripheral vascular disease (PVD), which can cause pain and, in some cases, lead to the need for amputation of a limb.

KIDNEY DISEASE (NEPHROPATHY)

Diabetes patients are more likely to develop kidney diseases, particularly when they have hypertension. This disease occurs when an antibody called immunoglobulin A (IgA) builds up in your kidneys. Kidneys are fundamental as they release hormones and regulate the amount of fluid and salts that control blood pressure. When faced with nephropathy, it’s important for people with diabetes to regulate blood glucose levels to reduce this risk as well as keep blood pressure under control. Our doctors will aid you to navigate this disease by regularly checking your urine for a protein known as ‘albumin,’ which appears during the early stages of kidney disease. If it’s diagnosed early, kidney disease can be effectively managed.

NERVE DAMAGE (NEUROPATHY)

Nerves have a critical role:  carrying messages between the brain and body parts. When damaged, they can cause several complications whether associated with hearing, feeling, or movement. High blood glucose levels can damage tiny blood vessels supplying the nerves, consequently stopping nutrients from getting to the nerves and resulting in their damage. There are three types of neuropathy:

SENSORY NEUROPATHY

From its name, you will know that this type of nerve damage affects touch, and it plays a role in affecting your temperature and pain level among other things. Primarily affecting the arms and hands, it can also affect your feet and legs, causing symptoms related to tingling, numbness, inability to feel pain or temperature, and in some cases, loss of coordination. This condition is serious, because the lack of feeling and disassociation to pain may result in a patient’s inability to feel if they have been injured.

AUTONOMIC NEUROPATHY

This type of neuropathy affects autonomic functions we aren’t always aware of such as heartbeat, digestion, bowel control, and the function of sexual organs. Nerve damage can lead to digestive problems, incontinence, irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), problems with sweating, and impotence (the inability to have or maintain an erection).

MOTOR NEUROPATHY

This type of neuropathy affects movement, causing weakness as well as muscle wasting, twitching, and cramps. The muscle weakness can, in turn, lead to falls or problems carrying out mundane tasks such as doing up buttons.
 

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