Uncontrolled Diabetes and its Complications
If blood sugar is consistently high, over time it can affect the heart, eyes, kidneys, nerves, and other parts of the body. Most people living with uncontrolled diabetes don’t realize that they have a higher chance to suffer from certain conditions until the symptoms begin to manifest.
These other conditions that manifest along side diabetes are often referred to as Complications of diabetes.
Factors that increase the risk of developing complications include: Excessive alcohol intake, Smoking, Obesity, Lack of regular exercise. Uncontrolled diabetes affects many major organs, including the heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys and when this occurs, it can lead to certain conditions such as: Heart diseases and Stroke; Retinopathy and Eye complications; Kidney Diseases; Foot ulcers and Infections.
Other diabetes related conditions are: skin infections, sores and itching; dental diseases e.g. Gingivitis, periodontitis; Dementia and depression, hearing loss etc.
Uncontrolled Diabetes and the respiratory system:
The effects of protective proteins on the surface of the lungs are neutralized leading to a higher risk of influenza, pneumonia, tuberculosis.
Uncontrolled Diabetes and the Genitourinary system:
Women with Uncontrolled diabetes are said to face a higher risk of urinary tract infections and these are relatively more difficult to treat.
Relationship between Uncontrolled Diabetes and certain heart conditions:
The term “Diabetic Heart Disease” (DHD) refers to heart disease that develops in people who have Uncontrolled diabetes. Examples of heart conditions involved in DHD include: Diabetic Cardiomyopathy (enlargement of the heart muscles) , Heart failure (a condition in which the heart fails to function as a pump), Coronary Heart disease (narrowing of the blood vessels that supply oxygen rich blood to the heart) etc.
Effect on blood vessels and nerves:
Damage to blood vessels that nourish nerves causes tingling, numbness, burning or pain that usually begins at the tips of the toes or fingers.
Effect on the kidneys:
Uncontrolled diabetes can damage the delicate filtering system of the kidneys and can lead to kidney failure or irreversible end-stage kidney disease.
Effect on the eyes:
Diabetic retinopathy potentially leads to blindness and increases the risk of other serious vision conditions such as cataracts and glaucoma.
Effect on the skin, gums, feet and other organs:
Uncontrolled Diabetes may leave one more susceptible to skin problems, including bacterial and fungal infections. Nerve damage in the feet or poor blood flow to the feet increases the risk of various foot complications e.g. blisters and serious infections.
Gum infections also may be a concern, especially if you have a history of poor dental hygiene. Uncontrolled diabetes may also lead to lower than normal bone mineral density, increasing the risk of osteoporosis.
The complications of diabetes are far less common or severe in people who have well controlled blood sugar levels and blood pressure. The good news is that the risk of developing complications is greatly reduced by healthy eating, regular physical activity, well controlled Blood Pressure, reduced stress etc.
It is also very important to follow your treatment plan for diabetes and see your doctor for ongoing care. For those who already suffer from Diabetes related conditions, follow the treatment plan as is advised by your healthcare providers.
This may help avoid or delay further serious problems.
This Article is written by Ella Awele Nwaokolo a student of medicine and surgery of the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, Ogun State, Nigeria.