Diabetic Complications


diabetescomplicationsBy: Nikki Nies

Care for diabetes is a long term treatment lifestyle.  When left untreated, it can lead to serious complications that can leave devastating results. 

Taking care of yourself and monitoring changes in your body and your environment is critical for optimal care.  By eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy products, lean meats and limiting sodium content, you’re more than half way there in beating the odds of diabetic complications!

Complication

Description

Tips for Better Care

Eyes

  • Diabetics are 40% more likely to have glaucoma than those without diabetes—risk increases with age
  • Vision suffers due to retina and nerve damage over time
  • Cataracts: Diabetics are 60% more likely to develop cataracts than nondiabetics; cataracts blocks light, making lens “cloudy”
  • Retinopathy: all disorders of retina caused by diabetes; 2 types: proliferative and nonproliferative
  • Factors influencing retinopathy development: genes, how long one’s had DM; blood sugar and blood pressure levels
 

  • Wear sunglasses more often
  • Use glare control lenses in glasses
  • Keep blood sugars closer to normal

Gastroparesis

  • Delayed gastric (stomach) emptying
  • If vagus nerve, which controls the muscles of stomach and intestines do not work properlyàmovement of food stops or slows
  • Symptoms: lack of appetite, gastroesophageal reflux, spasms of stomach wall, erratic blood sugar levels, weight loss, abdominal bleeding, early satiety, heartburn, etc.

 Monitor blood sugars

Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome(HHNS)

  • Can occur in Type 1 or Type 2 diabetics
  • Usually due to an infection or illness
  • Blood glucose levels increase, yet one’s body tries to get rid of excess sugar by passing in through urine. Urine becomes dark and one may become thirsty.
  • Severe dehydration can lead to coma, seizures or death
  • Symptoms: excessive thirst, n/v, weakness or fatigue, fruity scented breath, confusion, shortness of breath, frequent urinating, abdominal pain
 

  • Drink liquids even when not thirsty
  • Control blood glucose levels
  • Check sugars regularly
  • Know target range for blood sugars
  • Adjust insulin dosages as needed
  • Check ketone levels

Hypertension

  • Nearly 2/3 of diabetics have high blood pressure
  • With high blood pressure, one’s heart has to work harder, which increases one’s risk for heart disease and/or stroke
 

  • Opt for whole grain cereals and grains
  • Read nutrition fact labels—opt for foods with less than 400 mg of sodium per serving
  • If needed, quit smoking
  • Limit alcohol  
  • Replace salt in cooking with herbs and spices

Feet

  • Most often in occurrence with neuropathy
  • Can lead to tingling, weakness, pain or stinging in feet
  • Can lead to loss of feeling in foot—unknowingly injuring foot
  • Feet problems may be due to poor blood flow or changes in shape of feet and/or toes
  • Can cause changes in the skin of feet—may become very dry and start to peel and crack
  • Calluses , foot ulcers, amputations and/or poor circulation can occur as well
 

  • After showering, dry feet and seal in remaining moisture with petroleum jelly or unscented hand cream
  • Do not place oils or creams between toes
  • To limit dry skin, limit soaking of feet
  • Let a health care provider cut off calluses
  • Increase amount of exercise if there’s poor circulation
  • Avoid smoking as it can impact small blood vessels and decrease blood flow to feet

Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)

  • Dangerously   high ketone levels or acids in the blood
  • More rare in those with Type 2 Diabetes
  • Ketones appear in urine when there is not enough insulinàcan poison body
 Eat small, frequent meals

Kidney Disease—Nephropathy

  • High blood sugars make it hard for kidneys to filter out blood
  • After years of exertion, kidney may start to leak and protein may start to be present in urine
 

  • Control blood pressure and blood sugars
  • Consume less high sodium foods
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco
  • Regular physical exercise
  • Lose weight  
  • Low protein diet

Nerve Damage—Neuropathy

  • About ½ of all diabetics have some type of neuropathy
  • More common for those who have had diabetes for years
  • Types: peripheral,
  • Peripheral neuropathy: may experience tingling, pain or increased sensitivity, numbness or weakness, muscles and bone
 

  • Keep blood sugars on target
  • Manage pain
  • Protect feet
  • Medications to reduce burning and tingling

Skin

  • Skin conditions can often be early signs of diabetes—diabetics often have dry skin and are less able to fend off bacteria
  • If caught early, may be easily be treated
  • Inflamed tissues are often times hot, painful, red and swollen
  • Most common organism: Staphylococcus bacteria
  • i.e. bacterial infections, fungal infections, itching, diabetic dermopathy, necrobiosis lipoidica, diabetic blisters, eruptive xanthomatosis and/or diabeticorum
  • Use talcum powder in places with skin to skin touch
  • If skin’s dry, limit bubble baths
  • Avoid very hot showers or baths
  • Limit moisturized in between toes
  • Use mild shampoos
  • Avoid feminine hygiene sprays
  • See a dermatologist
  • During cold, dry months, bathe less if possible
  • Treat cuts right away with antibiotic cream
  • Check feet daily for sores and cuts

Stroke

  • A diabetic has a 1.5 times higher risk of having a stroke
 

  • Lower blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol on target with physical exercise, medicine and healthy eating
  • Quit smoking 

You’ve probably noticed that most, if not all, of these complications can be controlled with blood sugar levels.  By taking a proactive approach to treating you diabetes, you could live a more worry free life!

Sources: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs312/en/

http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/risks-complications-uncontrolled-diabetes

http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/

https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/conditions/diabetes/problems_caused_by_diabetes.htm

http://healthy-ojas.com/diabetes/diabetes-complications.html

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