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Diabetes and Understanding Common Complications

Over 37 million Americans have diabetes which is one out of every ten people. About one out of five people with diabetes do not even know they have it. It is important to stay vigilant to give yourself the best opportunity for the highest quality of life possible. Failing to recognize the severity of this disease can cause complications.


Diabetes is a disease that affects the blood, but its effects are not limited to blood-related issues like hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Your blood nourishes every cell of your body, and diabetes can disrupt the proper functioning of virtually every organ in the body.


Heart disease in the most common complication associated with diabetes. A diabetic has twice a non-diabetic’s likelihood of dying of heart disease, including stroke. This is because the high blood sugar levels associated with diabetes damage blood vessels and nerves, including the blood vessels of the heart and the nerves that control it. The longer person has diabetes — particularly out-of-control diabetes — the higher their risk of heart disease.


Diabetes reduces circulation, and since proper blood supply to a wound is required for healing; reduced circulation means that wounds and infections will take longer to heal. This is especially true in the feet, which are the farthest extremities, and diabetes is the leading cause of lower limb amputation. Diabetics must always be aware of wounds, particularly foot wounds, since the impaired blood supply can mean that these wound and infections will not heal, and will lead instead to gangrene.


Diabetes is also the foremost cause of kidney disease. Kidney disease affects 25% of adult diabetics, and diabetes leads to more than half of all cases of kidney failure in the United States.


If diabetes is out of control, and blood sugar levels are too high, it can lead to swelling in the eyes, which will cause blurred vision. Although this issue will resolve on its own when blood sugar levels return to normal, if levels remain high, it can cause more serious, long-term complications, such as glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss in diabetics.


It is always important to consult your doctor to assure proper treatment. Keeping diabetes well-controlled can greatly reduce the risk of these complications allowing you to live your best life possible.

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