Risks of diabetes

Risks of diabetes

Diabetes is on the rise

The number of people diagnosed with diabetes rises dramatically every year and so you may ask, “What’s the big deal?” The big deal is that people who have diabetes don’t just have a problem with their blood sugar levels. They are also at risk from many other serious health problems too. People with diabetes are also at risk for heart disease, renal (kidney) failure and vision problems among other things.

Heart problems

People who have diabetes frequently also have heart disease, high blood pressure and are at risk for strokes and heart attacks. Heart disease and high blood pressure can be treated in part by diet and exercise changes (that could also prevent you from getting diabetes in the first place). Diabetic patients also have problems with circulation. This means that parts of their bodies don’t always get the blood that they need. Circulatory problems can lead to a loss of sensation in the extremities (arms and legs), slow down the healing of wounds, and even eventually lead to vision problems or blindness. Vision problems of diabetics include blurry vision, double vision, pain or pressure in and behind the eyes, floating spots, and a loss of peripheral vision.

Nerve damage

Diabetics can develop nerve problems because of poor blood flow and because uncontrolled blood sugar levels can cause damage to the nerves over time. These nerve problems can include sciatic pain, burning or tingling sensations in the arms and legs, or even a complete loss of feeling. Loss of feeling in the feet and extremities can be especially dangerous because they may be injured and not even know it! Diabetics frequently have problems with wound healing due to poor circulation and in extreme cases this can even lead to the amputation of toes, feet, and legs.  The kidneys are also likely to be affected by poor circulation. Kidney problems can include an increased incidence of urinary infections, bladder infections, or renal failure. Renal failure occurs when one or both of the kidneys shuts down. The only treatment for renal failure is dialysis (having waste filtered out of the body by a machine) or kidney transplant.

You are what you eat

People who are overweight and those with a family history of diabetes are most at risk for developing the disease. If you are at risk for diabetes moderate changes in your diet and an increase in exercise as well as weight loss may prevent you from getting the disease. Try to decrease your intake of sugar and carbohydrates and make an effort to attain a more active lifestyle. Take the necessary steps to prevent diabetes now and you may save yourself from many other health risks as well.  If you already have diabetes it can often be well controlled by diet and through exercise. Diabetics need to pay special attention to the care of their feet and eyes to prevent further health problems. See your doctor often and follow their advice to minimize your risk of other health problems. You may also want to consider joining a local support group to meet others who share your condition and can help you make the lifestyle changes needed to keep you healthy.

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