The Complications of Diabetes
Last updated: March 2023
There may be days where living with diabetes feels easier than you thought it would be. And other days where all you want to do is throw in the towel. Maybe a slight reminder as to what all this monitoring is for, will help you stay motivated and on the right track. Studies have found that close monitoring and control of blood glucose levels can slow the progression of the disease. When blood glucose levels are not in control, the risk for complications is great.
What are some of the complications of diabetes?
These are just a few potential diabetes complications.
Neuropathy is also known as nerve damage. Because nerves are located throughout the entire body, keeping blood glucose levels tightly controlled is key to decreasing the risk of damage. Peripheral neuropathy may cause a tingling feeling, most frequently in the hands and feet. Once it exists, there is no way to reverse the damage.
Autonomic neuropathy affects the nerves that are in control of your bodily systems including your bladder, intestines, and other organs. Symptoms such as frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs), diarrhea, and constipation are common when autonomic neuropathy is at play. Be sure to speak with your physician if you are having any symptoms of peripheral or autonomic neuropathy.
Retinopathy, or eye problems, are also common with diabetes. It is important to see an eye doctor annually to follow your vision status and make sure the disease is not progressing. When blood glucose levels are not well controlled, people with diabetes are at risk for glaucoma and cataracts. As the disease progresses, proliferative or nonproliferative retinopathy can also occur. These increase the risk of vision loss and should be monitored by an eye doctor, as many people that have bad damage do not notice until it is severely extensive.
Also known as nephropathy, kidney disease is also a huge complication of uncontrolled diabetes. The kidneys are the body’s filtration system. “Blood vessel damage, hypertension, and insufficiently controlled blood glucose can take a serious toll on renal (or kidney) function, damaging the amazing filtration capacity of the kidneys. As a result, diabetes has become the number one cause of end-stage renal disease (ESRD, or kidney failure) accounting for 44 percent of all U.S. cases.”1 The longer you have had diabetes, the higher the risk for developing these complications. Signs of severe kidney disease include nausea and vomiting, frequent urination and edema, or swelling.
There are other complications such as high blood pressure, skin breakdown, and stroke that are common with diabetes. If you have any specific concerns about your health, do not hesitate to reach out to your physician. Taking good care of your diabetes is worth it!
Have you experienced any of the previously mentioned complications?
Do you find it difficult to "eat right" and stick to a nutrition plan?