Common complications of diabetes

Diabetes patients often face complications in the long term. People with diabetes who manage to keep their blood glucose levels well under control are less likely to develop these problems. Most complications with diabetes are the result of damage to blood vessels and nerves. Most defects in the blood vessels lead to problems with the heart, brain and feet. Abnormalities in the nerve pathways cause sudden pain, tingling and a paralyzing feeling.

Eye problems

Many diabetics experience vision loss or even blindness. This is due to the narrowing of the blood vessels in the retina or due to the leakage of blood through the wall of the blood vessel. Abnormalities of the retina are called retinopathy. This is treated with laser beams. An eye problem in a diabetic is insidious, because the patient usually only notices it when the retina no longer works for the most part. To avoid such problems, regular check-ups by an ophthalmologist are essential. If the blood glucose level is too high, problems with the eye also occur. Complaints may include blurred vision, double vision and red eyelids. When the blood glucose level is under control again, the complaints disappear again. Other eye problems that often occur in patients with diabetes are cataracts, excessive pressure on the eyeball and inflammation of the iris (iridocyclitis).

Kidney problems

Diabetes can also affect the kidneys. This happens due to narrowing of the blood vessels. A kidney defect is also called nephropathy. A kidney abnormality is treacherous, because there are usually few complaints in the beginning. At the start of the problems, there is at most an increase in the secretion of proteins in the urine. The kidney then still filters enough blood from the waste products. The amount of protein can be read in the urine. ACE inhibitors reduce protein loss. At a certain point the kidney starts to work less well. The substances urea and creatinine cannot be split properly, causing them to accumulate in the blood. This can be checked through blood and urine tests. When the kidneys deteriorate further, kidney dialysis becomes necessary. A patient may also be eligible for a kidney transplant.

Heart and blood vessel problems

Patients with diabetes are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than healthy people. High blood sugars damage the walls of the blood vessels. This is due to narrowing of the blood vessels, causing organs to receive less blood. If coronary arteries narrow, angina pectoris or even a heart attack can develop. The heart muscle itself can also be affected. Calcification of the arteries in patients with diabetes mainly occurs in the blood vessels to the legs and in the blood vessels to the brain. The consequences can be serious, such as a lack of oxygen in the calves, having to constantly stand still due to broken legs and death of the toes.

Nerve problems

Diabetes can also damage the nerves in the long term. This is called neuropathy and can be divided into two categories: peripheral neuropathy (damage to nerves in the hands, feet and trunk) and autonomic neuropathy (damage to nerves in the control system of internal organs). Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include tingling, sensory disturbances, cramps in the calves and loss of muscle tissue. Because organs are affected by autonomic neuropathy, the complaints can be serious. The gastrointestinal system can start to work differently, causing complaints such as diarrhea, constipation and frequent farting. Problems with urination can also occur, causing bladder infections and incontinence. The problems can decrease when blood glucose levels are well controlled. Sometimes certain painkillers are prescribed.

Foot problems (Diabetic foot)

A common complication in people who have had diabetes for years is diabetic foot. Foot deformities can be serious. Diabetics often realize late that they have a wound on their foot. If this wound turns into an infection, it can upset blood sugar levels. If the wound is not treated in time, the ultimate consequence can be an amputation of one or more toes. If a patient has doubts about a wound on the foot, it is better to consult a doctor in a timely manner.

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