Diabetes Symptoms and Complications
Diabetes Symptoms and Complications
If you have concerns about diabetes, this article discusses the various diabetes symptoms and complications. This information should help you make better decisions to better manage diabetes and improve your quality of life. Diabetes is not a death sentence and managing or overcoming diabetes requires concerted effort.
A. What is Diabetes?
Insulin is a hormone that helps the body use glucose (one of the simplest forms of sugar) for energy. The pancreas makes insulin though some of its cells. When food is eaten, the pancreas breaks down the sugars and starches into glucose which is used as fuel by the cells in the body.
For a diabetic with Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce any insulin and the diabetic needs daily injections of insulin. This usually starts in childhood.
For a diabetic with Type 2 diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin or ignores the insulin produced. This is the most common type of diabetes although almost half of the afflicted are unaware of having the disease.
With the lack of insulin production, glucose levels build up in the body and tissue and are excreted by the body through urine thereby leading to a loss of the main source of fuel needed by the body. This loss of glucose leads to diabetes complications.
Another form of diabetes is gestational diabetes experienced by some pregnant women during the third trimester of the pregnancy. This usually resolves itself a few months after childbirth but some of these women will develop Type 2 diabetes later on in life.
Early detection of diabetes and proper treatment can usually decrease the chances of developing diabetes related complications.
i. Type 1
– Frequent need to urinate
– Excessive thirst
– Extreme hunger
– Sudden weight loss that is unusual
– Tiredness throughout the day and irritability
ii. Type 2
– Any of the above symptoms
– Getting infections frequently
– Sudden changes in eyesight and vision
– Cuts and/or bruises that are slow to heal
– Tingling and/or numbness in the hands and/or feet
– Very itchy or dry skin
It is important to note that some people with Type 2 diabetes never suffer any symptom which is why it is one of the “silent killers”. This is why it is important to get tested frequently.
Diabetes increases the risks for many health problems that are frequently very serious. However with the proper treatment and lifestyle changes many can delay or prevent any complications. These are some of the complications;
1. Eye complications: Diabetics have a higher risk of vision problems and blindness. Having regular vision checkups is important to treat any problems that develop quickly.
2. Foot Complications: Foot problems occur mainly due to nerve damage in feet that can lead to loss of feeling in feet. Nerve disease also reduces sensation in feet. Most people with diabetes have artery disease which reduces blood flow to feet which is why most people with diabetes are far more likely to need a foot or leg amputation. It is therefore very important to take good care of feet by wearing the proper shoes and see a doctor immediately when foot problems develop.
3. Various skin conditions may develop and it is important to see a doctor immediately once you notice any skin conditions.
4. Heart disease and stroke: It is important to speak with your doctor to discuss steps to reduce your risk as a diabetic to heart disease and stroke.
5. High blood pressure: Two out of three diabetics have high blood pressure which increases the risk for heart attack, stroke, eye problems, and kidney disease. Have your blood pressure checked frequently.
6. Kidney disease: Having diabetes can cause damage to the kidneys and lead to them failing. Failing kidneys lose their ability to filter out the body’s waste products leading to kidney disease.