Diabetes and the Complications it Brings
So you got diabetes, what’s the big deal right? Wrong. Diabetes is serious, dead serious! It doesn’t matter if you have type 1 or type 2, they both bring complications to the table. Sort of like your Uncle Joe who brings a strange woman to Thanksgiving dinner.
Let’s talk about some of the complications that you need to be aware of.
- The Heart & Blood Vessels. 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 other people.
Heart attacks in people with diabetes are more serious and more likely to result in death.
High blood glucose levels over the years can lead to increased deposits of fatty materials on the insides of the blood vessel walls. These deposits may affect blood flow, increasing the chance of clogging and hardening of blood vessels (atherosclerosis).
Often times having diabetes also means having high cholesterol (total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides).
- The Nerves. Diabetic neuropathies are a family (a family you don’t want) of nerve disorders caused by diabetes. People with diabetes can, over time, develop nerve damage throughout the body.
Some people with nerve damage have no symptoms. Others may have symptoms such as pain, tingling, or numbness-loss of feeling-in the hands, arms, feet, and legs.
Nerve problems can occur in every organ system, including the digestive tract, heart, and sex organs.
The fact is our friend, 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes have some form of neuropathy!
- The Eyes. High blood glucose and high blood pressure (common in diabetics) from diabetes can hurt four parts of your eye:
- Retina. The retina is the lining at the back of the eye. The retina’s job is to sense light coming into the eye.
- Vitreous. The vitreous is a jelly-like fluid that fills the back of the eye.
- Lens. The lens is at the front of the eye. The lens focuses light on the retina.
- Optic nerve. The optic nerve is the eye’s main nerve to the brain.
Your retinas have tiny blood vessels. Having high blood glucose for a long time can damage these tiny blood vessels. This can ultimately lead to vision problems and even total blindness.
- The Penis (or Jimmy as I like to call it). Having diabetes can often lead to erectile dysfunction or ED. This is a result of nerve damage or blood flow issues, which as we already mentioned are common complications with diabetes.
Physiological factors (Stress, depression, and fear) that are a side effect of having diabetes can also lead to Jimmy not working.
- Sexual Dysfunction in Women. Women you too can have sexual dysfunction problems related to diabetes.
Over 40% of women with diabetes have some sort of sexual dysfunction. Of course this number may be a little higher than reported.
These problems include:
- decreased vaginal lubrication, resulting in vaginal dryness
- uncomfortable or painful sexual intercourse
- decreased or no desire for sexual activity
- decreased or absent sexual response
Many of these problems occur due to similar issues the men deal with from ED-nerve and blood vessel damage, psychological issues, and medications.
- The Kidney. Diabetes is the most common cause of kidney failure, accounting for nearly large percentage of new cases.
Even when diabetes is controlled, the disease can lead to CKD and kidney failure. Diabetic kidney disease takes many years to develop, so it can be prevented through you taking action.
Research indicates nearly 180,000 people are living with kidney failure as a result of diabetes.
- The Bladder. Since diabetes damages the nerves, bladder problems usually result from this. Diabetics can experience the following:
- Overactive Bladder. Urinary frequency-urination eight or more times a day or two or more times a night; urinary urgency-the sudden, strong need to urinate immediately; urge incontinence-leakage of urine that follows a sudden, strong urge to urinate. Not Fun!
- o Poor control of sphincter muscles. Can cause you to hold urine in or leak it out.
- Urine retention. Urine may back up and the increasing pressure may damage the kidneys. If urine remains in the body too long, an infection can develop (UTI). Urine retention may also lead to overflow incontinence-leakage of urine when the bladder is full and does not empty properly.
- The Stomach. Diabetes can lead to something called gastroparesis or delayed emptying of the stomach and intestines.
Gastroparesis occurs when the vagus nerve is damaged and the muscles of the stomach and intestines do not work normally. Food then moves slowly or stops moving through the digestive tract.
What does that mean? Constipation, severe constipation! It also can lead to heartburn, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, spasms, up and down blood sugars and bloating.
These are just some of the many complications that diabetes can bring along. Some others that I won’t go into detail about are:
- Skin problems
- Dental disease and problems
- Feet problems
- Mental problems and issues.
Almost if not all of these complications are avoidable.
So what can you do to prevent or treat many of these complications?
Get regular medical check-ups and listen to the medical advice, monitor your blood sugar levels, eat the “right” type of foods , and exercise.