Considered as the scourge of the century, diabetes comes with the dubious distinction of exceeding the estimated rates of affliction. The WHO had projected that the number of individuals worldwide who would be afflicted with the condition would touch 330 million by 2030. However, as proof of the serious of the condition, around 422 million individuals were reportedly afflicted with the condition in 2014 itself. This clearly points out the gravity of the situation, and the need for diagnosis and management of the condition at an early stage. To compound the problem, diabetes and medications prescribed for diabetes are known to cause complications. Here is an in-depth look at the side effects of diabetes, helping individuals cope with the fallouts more effectively.

Overview of diabetes

Before we look at the possible complications from the condition, here is a quick look at diabetes.  Dietary intake delivers glucose to the body, and insulin is a hormone that is necessary for the sequence of actions for the glucose to enter the cells and deliver energy. Diabetes is broadly classified into two types – type 1 and type 2. The former refers to the condition when the body is unable to make adequate insulin. The latter refers to the condition, that is more common and prevalent when the body does not make insulin well. As a result of this, the blood glucose remains in the blood, resulting in various complications.

Diabetes also includes a type known as pre-diabetes, a condition where the levels are not high enough to be classified as diabetes, but borderline, which could eventually turn in to full fledged diabetes. Another type of diabetes is gestational diabetes, that could develop in pregnant women. Screening for diabetes involves blood tests, including A1C that helps individuals determine if the diabetes is managed and kept under control. There are simple measures to help prevent or maintain blood glucose levels, and this includes dietary modifications, weight control programs and lifestyle changes. Recommended diets help to control the condition effectively, and work in combination with medications to help control blood glucose levels.

Certain symptoms are indicative of the condition – increased thirst, sudden pangs of hunger, the urge to urinate frequently, and sudden loss of weight are some of the many symptoms that indicate the condition.

Reasons behind side effects of diabetes

The primary reason for complications from diabetes is the damage to the blood vessels. As the blood is unable to reach the desired organs, and the functions are impacted, health deteriorates, and the roles of the nerves also get compromised. The individuals begin to lose sensations in those parts of the body, and the damage is also long term in nature due to deprivation of the oxygen form the blood. Elevated HbA1c or glycated hemoglobin levels is known to be one of the reasons behind the typical complications.

Types of undesirable effects

There are typically two types of undesirable effects from diabetes and medications. Chronic complications and acute complications. The former refers to the serious complications that gradually develop in the body with the condition. Acute complications refer to the sudden development of issues due to diabetes and the medication. Long term or chronic complications are known to have a serious impact on health. It is essential for individuals to seek diagnosis to detect and manage the condition effectively. A large number of individuals remain unaware of the condition, and recognize the situation only when the symptoms are severe or persistent in nature.

Chronic problems

# 1 Damage to limb extremities – the foot

This is one of the more commonly occurring conditions. Diabetes can result in severe foot problems, that can end up in a situation where the foot needs to be amputated. This is attributed to nerve damage and elevated blood sugar levels. This impacts blood circulation, and consequently, cuts and sores that typically take a period of time to heal will require longer duration to heal. If left untreated, this can result in long term consequences. Individuals are advised to identify and recognize if small cuts, sores take longer than usual to heal.

# 2 Damage to the kidneys

Medically known as nephropathy, this refers to the long-term damage and impact on the kidneys. As a result of this impact, the kidneys take a longer time to flush out the extra fluid and waste from the body. The primary reasons are elevated blood glucose levels and hypertension. In addition to the impact of the ailment, the medications also cause complications, and it is necessary to rely on kidney friendly diabetic medications to prevent this outcome.

# 3 Impact on vision

Another complication that is a cause for concern is diabetic retinopathy, that affects vision among the affected. The silver lining of this condition is that it an e detected through routine screening tests and based on the findings, the condition can be arrested. This will prevent it from going out of hand with long term complications for diabetics.

#4 Effect on nerves

Nerve damage also known as neuropathy is a possible complication from the condition. Elevated blood glucose levels are known to cause possible damage to the nerves and this can result in complications in various parts of the body. For instance, this can have an impact on the manner in which signaling occurs between the brain and every single part of the body, thereby affecting multiple actions. Nerve damage when combined with other damage from diabetes can have serious implications.

#5 Impact on heart

In addition to the above conditions, the impact of diabetes on heart is regarded to be significant. This is because cardiovascular conditions are known to be serious in nature with high rates of mortality. Long term diabetes can have an impact on the blood vessels, and this is likely to result in elevated risk of heart attack and strokes. It is necessary to prevent this from occurring as this can be serious in nature.

#6 Damage to the teeth and gums

Most individuals are usually unaware of the impact of diabetes on dental health. As a result of elevated blood glucose levels, the amount of sugar in the saliva increases. This in turn sets off a sequence of actions where bacteria end up producing more acid, and this results in damage to tooth enamel. It is also known to cause damage to the gums. Apart from one type of damage to the gums, there is also the possibility of damage to the blood vessels in the gums.  This may cause infections in the gums.

# 7 Impact on cancer

There are two types of impact caused by high blood sugar on cancer. The first is the possibility of individuals ending up with elevated risk of developing cancer. The second risk is the impact of cancer medications and treatment on blood sugar medications. In other words, individuals with cancer and high blood sugar may find it difficult to rein in blood sugar levels as a result of the interaction between the two medications and treatment regimens.

# 8 Effect on sex life of both genders

Diabetes can have a severe impact on sex life of both men and women. This is attributed to the damage caused to the blood vessels and nerves due to long term diabetes. This in turn results in a decrease in the flow of blood to the sexual organs. As a result of this, there is every likelihood of the individual losing interest, or ability to indulge in sex, including erectile dysfunction. Additionally, women are at risk of developing thrush or other urinary tract infections as a result of high blood sugar.

Acute problems

As mentioned above, there are typically two types of complications and side effects of diabetes. This includes acute complications, which have the dubious distinction of possibly developing into chronic complications slowly. Acute problems may occur at any point of time and maybe severe in nature. For instance, this could occur when the blood sugar levels are elevated, and reach very high levels. This could also happen when the blood sugar levels dip to very low levels.

Certain acute complications of diabetes are serious in nature and require urgent attention, dur to the life-threatening nature of the conditions. For instance, Individuals with type 2 diabetes could be exposed to the risk of hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state. This refers to the condition wherein extremely high blood sugar levels and severe dehydration combines to cause a condition that can be serious and life threatening. Another condition of concern is a combination of low insulin and extremely high blood glucose levels resulting in diabetic ketoacidosis. This is attributed to the accumulation of ketones as a result of the combination of conditions.

Measures to prevent and mitigate the issues

Most individuals are led to believe that issues arising out of elevated blood glucose levels cannot be managed. However, on the contrary, it is possible to mitigate and prevent the condition from going out of hand and reining it to controllable or manageable levels.  The best option is to maintain blood sugar levels, and to also periodically monitor and maintain blood sugar levels. As mentioned below, multiple complications are attributed to the combination of elevated blood sugar and hypertension. By controlling both the conditions and keeping fat in check it is possible to avoid complications that are both chronic and acute in nature.

Simple steps – Simple steps and lifestyle modifications can make a huge difference to the possibility of complications from diabetes. For instance, the first step is to stop smoking, as this is known to make the flow of blood more complex and tough. Diabetes causes possible nerve damage, and if the dividual continues to smoke, this may aggravate the condition. By quitting smoking, one of het factors that aggravate the condition can be controlled effectively. Other measures include dietary changes such as diets that reduce the cholesterol levels in the body. By lowering the levels of LDL and VLDL, and by increasing the HDL levels in the body, it is possible to mitigate the complications to a certain extent. Individuals with an inactive lifestyle are more at risk of developing complications. It is necessary to choose activities and routines that are more active.


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