Complications of Diabetes
If diabetes is poorly controlled over a long period of time, almost every part of your body can be affected. Damage can occur to large and small blood vessels as well as nerves. This damage can cause complications to your eyes, heart, kidneys and sexual organs to mention a few.
The good news is that research tells us the better you are able to control your diabetes, the less likely you are to get any of these complications. If any complications have already started, you can slow the progression of them.
Steps to Preventing Complications:
- Maintain good blood glucose control
- Eat a healthy diet
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Keep your BP less than 130/80
- Have your eyes checked yearly
- Have your cholesterol checked regularly
- Check your feet daily
- Don't smoke!
- Retinopathy is damage to the small blood vessels that supply the back of your eyes.
- Sometimes you will not have any symptoms at all.
- Other symptoms can include blurred vision, flashes of light, sudden loss of vision, spots in your vision.
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
- Coronary artery disease is a term for blockage caused by plaque formation on the coronary artery walls that supply blood to the heart. Atherosclerosis is the presence of plaque within blood vessels.
- Common symptoms are chest discomfort (angina), shortness of breath, dizziness, and fatigue. These symptoms are more likely to occur if you exert yourself physically.
- A heart attack or myocardial infarction (MI) is when your heart musicle is damaged from lack of oxygen being carried to the heart muscle.
- Cerebrovascular disease is a term for blockage from plaque formation on the cerebral arteries that supply blood to the brain.
- A stroke or cerebral vascular accident (CVA) is when there is a complete blockage by plaque or a blood clot that stops oxygen from getting to the brain.
- Nephropathy is damage to the small blood vessels that supply the kidneys. This affects the kidney's ability to filter waste from the body and regulate fluid and salts which are important in controlling blood pressure.
- Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease.
Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)
- Peripheral vascular disease is caused by poor circulation to the arms and legs due to atherosclerosis or plaque build-up in the vessels.
- The most common symptom of PVD is aching in the calves as you walk.
- Peripheral Neuropathy is caused by damage to the peripheral nerves that supply the arms, hands, legs and feet.
- The most common symptoms are pain, numbness, tingling and/or burning in both feet, usually at the end of the day when you are off your feet.
- Autonomic neuropathy is nerve damage that affects the nervous system which controls many body functions such as sexual function, stomach, bowel and bladder functions.
- High blood glucose levels cause chemical changes in the nerve fibres.
- Symptoms include erectile dysfunction, constipation, diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. You may also experience difficulty with your blood pressure when you go from a lying to a standing position quickly.