Diabetes and its related complications

Diabetes is sometimes viewed as a not-so-serious disease because the effects on the body are not readily seen.  Persons may say, ‘I have a little sugar’ or ‘The doctor said I have a touch of sugar.’  These conditions do not exist; a person either has diabetes, too much sugar in the blood, or may be pre-diabetic.  Being pre-diabetic means having higher than normal blood sugar levels but not high enough to be call diabetes.  Statements like those above let me know that many people are not fully aware of what the disease is, how it works and the negative effects it can have on the body if not managed properly.

There are many complications associated with diabetes; these include, but not limited to: Hyperglycemia, Hypoglycemia, Neuropathy, Nephropathy and Retinopathy.

Hyperglycemia: Hyperglycemia is an abnormally high level of glucose (sugar) in the blood.  It may be caused by ignorance–you do not know you have the disease; eating too many carbohydrates at one time or not taking the medications as prescribed.  If blood sugar is not lowered, it can lead to confusion and possibly coma.

Hypoglycemia: Hypoglycemia is extremely low blood glucose. It may be caused by accidently taking too much insulin or other medication or not eating for long periods of time.  Symptoms include sweating, trembling, anxiety, nausea, dizziness, confusion, tiredness, headache, and difficulty concentrating.

Having uncontrolled blood sugar over a span of time can cause irreparable damage to the nervous system and a thickening of the blood which makes it almost impossible for the blood to properly circulate to the peripheral  blood vessels in the hands, fingers, feet and toes.  If blood is not able to get to the tissues, they die leading to the need for amputations.

Damage to the nervous system

Nephropathy: This is the deterioration of the blood vessels in the kidney which eventually leads to kidney disease.

Neuropathy: Neuropathy is a disease involving damage to some of the nerves in the body, especially the peripheral nerves.   Diabetic neuropathies cause numbing and tingling of the hands, arms, feet, and legs.  It can also be the cause of foot ulcers.

Retinopathy: This is a degenerative disease of the nerves in the retina. If left untreated, diabetic retinopathy can lead to blindness.

Blindness, kidney damage and amputations are very serious complications associated with diabetes and may be alleviated through proper education.  We will be hosting a Diabetes education workshop on November 21st beginning at 6:00pm.  For more information on the workshop, please contact us.