29.1 million in the U.S. have diabetes. Of that number, 8.1 million don’t know they have the condition. Considering the damage this disease does to the rest of the body, that is a frightening set of statistics. One problem with diagnosis is that people may be unaware of what can go wrong if they don’t get diagnosed and get the condition under control. That’s the aim for this article.
Short Term Complications
Blood Sugar Fluctuations: High blood sugar damages the body. This will be explained in further detail under long term complications. Low blood sugar can result in disorientation, coma and death.
Ketoacidosis: When cells in the body don’t get enough blood sugar, the body begins to burn fat and muscle. This means that ketones enter the blood stream. The ketones create an imbalance called metabolic acidosis or diabetic ketoacidosis. When this happens, it is a life threatening emergency.
Eye Problems: There are two ways diabetes can affect vision. The first is by drawing water into the lens of the eye. This causes blurred vision. While this can be corrected, it takes several weeks to fully clear. Diabetics need to wait on new glasses or contacts until blood sugar has been under control for at least two months.
The other problem is in the back of the eye. The retina can be thinned by years of high blood sugar. Several problems can occur and one of them can lead to complete blindness. This happens if the retina becomes detached.
Skin Problems: High blood sugar makes it difficult for wounds to heal. This can happen anywhere on the body. Other skin problems can occur, including scaly patches, blisters and something that may look and act like an insect bite. It is a yellow bump surrounded by red and it itches.
Neuropathy: Nerve damage can occur, causing feelings of pain, numbness or tingling. This happens a lot in the feet and legs, though it can happen in other areas. Some who have nerve damage lose feeling in those areas, which can make it hard to notice wounds.
Heart Disease: The exact mechanisms for how high blood sugar levels hurt the circulatory system isn’t known. It is well established that there is a connection. Scientists are working to find it and have a few theories, but nothing solid to work with yet.
Kidney Disease: As with heart disease, scientists aren’t sure why high blood sugar counts damage the kidneys. There is a working theory that the damage is caused by the extra work the kidneys perform trying to filter out the sugar.
Urinary Tract Infections: Excess blood sugar is disposed of via the urinary tract. The sugar helps bacteria in the system grow faster than the body can kill it. This leads to urinary tract infections.
Erectile Dysfunction: Damage to nerves and blood vessels can lead to this problem. Whether or not it can be remedied depends on how the patient responds to treatment and whether or not the patient wants to go through with some of the current options. Less than fifty percent of diabetic men respond to oral medications and after that it’s either surgical or injections.
Death: As you can see from many of the complications listed, diabetes can kill. In short terms, low blood sugar and diabetic ketoacidosis are deadly. In the long term, kidney and heart disease can be the culprit.
It is a good idea to have your blood sugar tested regularly. The chance of dealing with these complications can be lessened by maintaining proper sugar levels. It’s hard to treat a disease you don’t know you have, and there are millions of people currently in that predicament.