The complications associated with diabetes are widespread, and can span throughout the entire body. With more than 16 million Americans affected by this chronic illness, the concern and interest of its consequences have risen dramatically. People living with Diabetes are curious to learn about the background of this illness, and the problems it can ultimately cause its victims.
A Glimpse into the World of Diabetes
To truly understand diabetes mellitus and its projected complications, the background of the illness must first be addressed. It is common knowledge that our bodies need energy to function. This energy comes in the form of blood sugar, or glucose, which fuels our body cells and allows us to operate. Our bodies are extremely sensitive to changes in blood sugar levels, because the brain relies almost solely on this glucose for fuel. The body of a diabetic is unable to use the hormone insulin properly, which in turn results in extreme blood sugar levels. This in turn can result in several body changes, and in time, complications.
There are two forms of diabetes, Type I and Type II. The more serious of the forms, Type I diabetes usually occurs suddenly, typically in the childhood or adolescent years of life. Most cases of Type I diabetes will be diagnosed before the age of 30. Type I diabetes is unable to produce a suitable amount of insulin, due to pancreatic dysfunctions. Type I diabetes can lead to a potentially fatal condition called diabetic ketoacidosis. Noted symptoms of Type I are: extreme thirst, excessive urination, fatigue, nausea, and weight loss. Those affected by Type I diabetes must inject insulin, or engage in insulin pump therapy.
The more common of the two forms, Type II diabetes is often called “adult onset diabetes,” and primarily occurs after the age of 30. In Type II diabetes, some insulin may be produced, but, the body has become resistant to the hormone, which in turn prevents glucose from entering body cells. Insulin resistence causes both insulin and blood sugar levels to increase. Type II diabetes is commonly attributed to obesity. High glucose levels in Type II diabetes can lead to symptoms such as extreme thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, increased appetite, and loss of weight. Many Type II patients, however, do not exhibit any symptoms whatsoever. Type II diabetes can be controlled by a change in both diet and lifestyle.
What are the Complications in Type I and II Diabetes?
When diabetes is not properly managed, several complications can ultimately ensue. Some of the most notable complications are the following:
Cerebrovascular Disease affects the vessels that lead to the brain. If one of the more major vessels is blocked, a stroke can occur. This disease appears to develop earlier in a diabetes patient than in a non-diabetic individual.
A condition in which nerve fibers and endings are damaged, neuropathy is a common disorder in the diabetic patient. Diabetic neuropathy can be caused by either high or low blood sugar levels, as well as, insulin deficiency. Numbness, tingling, and pain in the extremities are symptoms of neuropathy.
An eye problem known as retinopathy is also prevalent in diabetes cases. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when damage occurs to the tiny capillaries that provide nourishment to the retina. This damage can cause blood and fluid to seep into the small vessel walls. This condition is one of the leading causes of vision deterioration in the nation.
Coronary Artery Disease has been attributed to over half of all deaths in diabetic patients. Insulin resistence most encountered in Type II diabetes has been linked to this potentially fatal disease.
To avoid these potential complications, diabetics are advised to follow their suggested course of treatment and controlling methods. Whether through insulin-pump therapy, or diet overhauls, both types of diabetes can easily be managed by the patient committed to living a long, rewarding life.