Diabetes is a long-term condition that you can reverse in some cases, and in other cases, you can manage it more efficiently to avoid potential complications. For example, learning about the dangerous complications of diabetes can help you take precautions to prevent these bad outcomes.
The journey to better quality health starts with knowledge.
Potential Complications of Inefficient Diabetes Management
Many complications are shared between type one diabetes (T1D) and type two diabetes (T2D), even though they're different conditions. Both conditions can cause increased blood glucose levels, which are very destructive over time.
Persistently high blood glucose levels deteriorate your arteries, leading to cardiovascular problems. This study confirmed the correlation between T2D and hypertension.
Arteries become narrowed and hardened, called atherosclerosis, and pressure builds in the arteries to keep blood pumping to vital organs. The problem is that the organs become unable to manage high blood pressure over time.
Diabetes is also responsible for increased low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol production. This bad cholesterol builds plaque in your arteries, further deteriorating them and contributing to high blood pressure.
This artery plaque development contributes to the risk of heart disease and hypertension.
Neuropathy and Other Nerve Damage
The tingling sensations and numbness in your hands and feet are called peripheral neuropathy. Over time, uncontrolled diabetes causes damage to the small capillaries, which supply nerves with nutrients. The nerves become damaged due to decreased blood supply and nutrients, leading to neuropathy. It's a very unpleasant complication.
Autonomic nerves connect every organ to the central nervous system (CNS), so the brain can communicate with the organs and vice versa. These nerves are also subject to damage in patients with uncontrolled diabetes.
Autonomic neuropathy can impact your body's organs, including how they function. An example is the complication of an irregular heart rhythm caused by damage to the autonomic nerves connected to the heart.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
Uncontrolled blood glucose can also damage the small blood vessels in your kidneys, causing CKD when the kidneys can't function and filter waste efficiently anymore.
Gastroparesis is a problem where the stomach is malfunctioning. The cause is uncontrolled diabetes, which damages the vagus nerve and the nerve supply to the stomach.
The stomach no longer correctly moves food down the digestive tract and stalls your digestion.
Tooth decay isn't only ignited by eating refined sugars. It's also increased when the blood vessels intended to provide nutrients to the gums are impaired by high blood glucose levels.
Diabetes and persistently elevated glucose levels can interfere with or damage your vision. You can suffer from:
● Glaucoma, which happens when pressure builds within your eyes
● Cataracts, which is the clouding of your eye lens
● Diabetic retinopathy, which happens when the blood vessels behind the retina become damaged
● Complete blindness
Blood vessel deterioration and associated hypertension from diabetes can increase your risk of stroke. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), your stroke risk increases one and half times if you have diabetes.
Mismanaged glucose levels can lead to foot ulcers over time due to decreased circulation and nerve damage. Even worse, injuries to your feet can cause infections that could lead to gangrene and possible amputation.
It's easy to feel overwhelmed when you have to monitor your glucose and ketone levels, and depression often follows overwhelming stress. However, a lack of knowledge and the constant flow of stress hormones may cause depression in diabetics.
Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to trouble hearing, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Blood vessels and nerve cells are everywhere, including the ears.
Dementia is a degenerative brain disorder affecting memory, attention, and cognitive processing. The Alzheimer's Association has seen an increase in the primary type of dementia in diabetic patients.
The brain has many nerve cells, and high glucose and insulin levels can damage these cells over time. However, insulin can also harm the balance of hormones the brain needs to function correctly.
High glucose levels encourage inflammation, which further damages the brain leading to additional difficulties with cognitive function.
Skin and Mouth Problems
Bacterial and fungal infections of the skin and mouth are common if T1D isn't under control.
Ketoacidosis is a dangerous shortage of insulin and overproduction of ketones released from fatty acids in the liver when T1D is uncontrolled or undiagnosed. The body turns to fat for energy when there's no insulin left for energy conversion.
Too many ketones can cause acidity in the bloodstream, leading to a life-threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis if not treated immediately. Therefore, T1D people should never willingly induce ketoacidosis.
Every condition comes with potential complications, but it's up to you to manage your diabetes carefully. However, significant advancements are being made to manage T1D better.
T2D patients can rely on supplementing their medication with lifestyle choices and better diets.