If not properly managed, diabetes has the potential to negatively affect almost all organs and systems in your body. Improperly managed diabetes can lead to several health problems and even death.
There are several complications that can arise as a result of improper care of your diabetes. These include diabetic retinopathy, diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease), feet complications, stroke and heart attack, hyperosmolar hyperglycemic nonketotic syndrome (HHNS), and gastroparesis.
Diabetes also puts you at twice the risk of heart disease or a heart attack, compared to someone without diabetes. Other complications linked to diabetes include stroke, cognitive decline, high blood pressure, kidney disease, high cholesterol, foot infections, eye problems and skin infections.
Below is a deeper look into a few common complications as a result of diabetes:
Individuals with diabetes are at risk for retinal damage because the sensitive eye tissue can be affected by poor glucose control. The eye’s innermost layer is the retina. It is incredibly important to your vision. Your retina takes in light from surrounding areas and then converts the light into signals, which are sent for image recognition in the brain.
When the retina is affected, the blood vessels within it are usually damaged. This could impact your ability to properly decipher between images. Also, diabetics are at a higher risk of developing glaucoma and cataracts.
This term refers to kidney damage as a result of diabetes. Located in your kidneys are blood vessels which constantly filter the waste found in your blood. However, with diabetes, the consistently high blood-sugar level can cause damage to the blood vessels or even lead to their destruction. Therefore, the kidneys are unable to properly function.
This could potentially lead to kidney failure.
Since diabetics often have nerve damage in their feet, even a simple callous or cut could pose a major threat and lead to serious complications. As a result of nerve damage, the blood flow in a diabetic’s foot is poor, which also leads to poor feeling.
A diabetic might not feel a small cut on their foot due to a lack of sensation. When combined with the factor of poor blood flow, even a small cut could lead to a serious infection and even amputation.
Stroke and Heart Attack
Diabetes is the strongest risk factor for cardiovascular disease, according to the Joslin Diabetes Center. Of everyone with diabetes who is over the age of 65, 74 percent die from a stroke or heart attack. Also, adults suffering from diabetes have a 200 to 400 percent increased risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack, compared to individuals without diabetes.
Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome
Hyperosmolar hyperglycemic nonketotic syndrome (HHNS) is a condition which is most commonly seen in adults who are older and suffer from type 2 diabetes; however, it can be seen in those with type 1 diabetes as well.
This serious condition occurs when the blood sugar levels in the body rise, and the body makes an effort to quickly rid itself of this excess sugar via expulsion through urine. During this time, the affected individual might need to use the restroom frequently, but they eventually might stop going as often, and their urine will become dark.
Since dehydration is such a threat with this condition, seizures, a diabetic coma, and even death are potential results if left untreated.
Gastroparesis occurs when the stomach takes longer than normal to empty the contents inside. The vagus nerve is responsible for controlling the movement of food through the digestive tract, however, in a person with diabetes, this nerve becomes damaged due to the continuation of high glucose levels.
Once the vagus nerve becomes damaged, the intestines and muscles of the stomach no longer work properly, slowing down the movement of food or stopping it. Gastroparesis can occur in someone with either type of diabetes. It can cause nausea, vomiting, weight loss, heartburn, abdominal pain and more.