Diabetes by itself can be quite a demanding illness however if it is left unchecked or is poorly managed then serious medical complications can arise. Unfortunately some of these complications make an appearance in patients who do in fact closely monitor their diabetes and who live their lives in such a way that they successfully cope with their condition.
Such medical complications include:
Eye conditions such as retinopathy and glaucoma. Over time the high blood glucose levels can damage the tiny blood vessels that carry blood to the retina, which may cause them to leak fluid (nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy). This can lead to the retina becoming swollen and the vision becoming increasingly blurred (diabetic macular edema). If left untreated new blood vessels can grow on the retina’s surface which can actually cause the retina to detach. Regular eye checks at the diabetic clinic can easily detect any problems that are developing with regards to the retina so that they can be prevented from getting any worse.
Numbness in the extremities i.e. the fingers and toes, that is commonly caused by peripheral nerve damage in severe diabetes (diabetic neuropathy). Because the toes and portions of the foot lose their feeling, foot ulcers can develop without the patient knowing, especially if they are more advanced in years. These foot ulcers can easily become infected and as the blood flow to the affected area is commonly impaired, they can be very difficult to heal without medical intervention. Unfortunately foot ulcers often become gangrenous and so need to be amputated for the good of the patient.
Heart and blood vessel disease (cardiovascular) which surprisingly is the leading cause of death for people who have been diagnosed with diabetes. Death can come as a result of heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
Kidney failure or severe damage to the kidneys that results in impaired function (diabetic nephropathy). As with the eyes, the kidneys can become damaged over time because of the high blood glucose levels. This means that the waste products that the kidneys normally filter from the blood are allowed to accumulate which in turn can cause a wide range of secondary complications. Regular urine tests at the diabetes clinic can indicate any kidney problems early on so that they can be treated and monitored efficiently.
Dental disease or periodontal disease which occurs much more often in people with diabetes. Good oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist can help with this complication.
Diabetic Ketoacidosis which is a very serious outcome of poorly controlled diabetes, especially those suffering from type I.
In order to prevent many of these complications it is important that diabetics go to the clinic for their regular check-ups and keep appointments with their doctor, even if they think the worrying symptom has gone away.
They must also be aware of the warning signs that could be pointing to potential complications such as fatigue, problems with vision, numbness or tingling sensations in their hands and especially their feet, chest pain, bad headaches that won’t pass, persistent infections and wounds that refuse to heal, and weight gain or weight loss (more than 20 pounds).