Can You Develop Complications Even When Diabetes is Well Controlled?
Last updated: March 2023
One of the biggest stressors you face as a person with diabetes is that if your diabetes is not well controlled, you are putting yourself at risk for some pretty serious health issues. But how well controlled do you have to be? What kind of control would it take to remove that risk all together? Is that even possible? Let’s take a look.
What are diabetes-related complications?
Hopefully upon diagnosis, your physician discussed why it is so important for you to meet the blood sugar goals he or she has set for you. Maintaining as close to normal A1C and blood glucose levels helps keep your body healthy longer. A few complications that may arise due to diabetes are below:
The kidneys are our body’s filtration system. They filter our blood to remove any waste products. With advanced diabetes they may no longer be able to do this efficiently. This may lead to higher blood pressure levels as well as fluid retention.
Also known as peripheral neuropathy, diabetes can lead to poor blood circulation throughout the body. Each body part needs sufficient blood flow to stay healthy. When important body parts such as intestines, feet and hands are restricted from blood flow, they start to suffer.
When blood glucose levels are not in control, they can even affect the nerves in the eyes. If there is not enough blood flow to the eyes, complications can arise leading to loss of eyesight.
Have you experienced any of these complications?
What if my diabetes is well controlled?
Many studies have been done to monitor the affects of well-controlled blood glucose levels on the body. A large study was done on people with Type 1 diabetes. Part of the group continued their usual regimen, while another group was more intense on their control. The study found that those that were tightly controlled saw “Diabetic eye disease started in only one-quarter as many people. Kidney disease started in only half as many people. Nerve disease started in only one-third as many people. Far fewer people who already had early forms of these three complications got worse.”1 Although the risk was not completely diminished, decreasing it to these degrees is definitely worth following the stricter regimen.
Another study done on people with type 2 diabetes monitored risk for kidney and heart disease with well controlled diabetes. “The world's largest diabetes trial has shown intensive blood glucose control in type 2 diabetes reduces the risk of complications -- notably a 21% reduction in risk for kidney disease. The study also showed no evidence of any increased risk of death when blood glucose was intensively controlled…” 2
What does "tightly controlled" diabetes mean?
If you are unsure what your blood glucose and A1C level goals should be, please discuss this with your physician or any one on your diabetes team. They should be able to provide you a clear outline of levels to follow so that you can work towards a decreased risk of diabetes complications!
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