Quick Review of Diabetes Complications

Thursday, May 19 2011 3:13 PM - by Brett Kappelmann

Yesterday we held our inaugural free diabetes education class coined “The Sweet Spot” at Cooper Drug Store.  We had a great attendance and a lot of fun!  The free class will be held each month on the third Thursday at 11am.  We would love to see you in June!

The topic was on diabetes complications, and I would like to take the opportunity to review how high blood sugars can affect other parts of your body.

Diabetes affects your heart.  If you have diabetes, you are at least twice as likely as someone who does not have diabetes to have heart disease or a stroke.  People with diabetes also tend to develop heart disease or have strokes at an earlier age than others.

Diabetes affects your kidneys.  Having diabetes can damage your kidneys and cause them to become “leaky.”  Diabetes is the most common cause of the more than 100,000 people each year that are diagnosed with kidney failure.

Diabetes affects your eyes in several ways.  It can cause damage to your retina due to a condition called diabetic retinopathy.  Retinopathy is caused by leaky blood vessels in which the blood can block your vision.  Diabetics are also 40% more likely to develop glaucoma and 60% more likely to develop cataracts.

Diabetes affects your feet.  Foot problems most often happen when there is nerve damage also called neuropathy, which results in loss of feeling in your feet.  Poor blood flow or changes in the shape of your feet or toes may also cause problems.  Diabetics are more prone to develop very dry and cracked skin, increasing the risk of infection and further complications.

Finally, diabetes affects your nerves.  High blood sugar can damage blood vessels that supply nerves.  Diabetic neuropathy can affect hands, feet, and legs, causing tingling, stinging, and numbness.  It can also affect your stomach, causing pain, constipation, and digestive problems.

If you are diabetic you might be asking yourself, “How do I prevent these complications from developing or progressing?”  The long answer would require a separate article!  In short, control your blood sugars through diet, exercise, and medications.  Also, take really good care of your feet.  Finally, keep your appointments with your primary care physician, your optometrist, and any specialists that care for you, making sure that they are checking your labs, evaluating your medications, and checking for any neurological damage or foot problems.

If you ever have any questions or would like to find out more about our “Sweet Spot” classes, call us during business hours anytime!