One of the possible tragic consequences of diabetes is the effects the disease has on various organs and body functions. They cover a wide range of systems and conditions. Fortunately, most are treatable and/or manageable.
Hypoglycemia, for example, is a common side effect of diabetes medications. Since diabetes is characterized by too much glucose in the blood (hyperglycemia), treating it can produce too low a level (hypoglycemia). It can be mild and adjustable by changing diet or medications. But careful monitoring of blood glucose levels is essential to proper management.
Heart Disease and Stroke
Cardiovascular problems are more likely among those who suffer from diabetes. High glucose levels can gradually lead to increases of fatty deposits on blood vessels, constricting flow and possibly leading to atherosclerosis (clogging or hardening of the blood vessels). That increases the odds of heart attack or stroke. Those who have diabetes are twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke, and often at a younger age than average.
Here again, though, the condition can be managed to minimize the odds of heart disease or stroke. An appropriate exercise regimen can help keep your cardiovascular in optimal condition. A heart healthy diet will reduce the odds of atherosclerosis. A good diet also reduces the chances of a stroke. In some cases, simple aspirin treatments may be helpful.
A variety of eye problems are possible complications of diabetes. Indeed, one of the common symptoms is blurry vision. Excess glucose in the blood draws fluid out of tissues, including the lenses. That makes it more difficult to correctly focus. But there are other areas of the eye that can be affected, as well.
The retina (the lining on the back of the eye) may have its proper function impaired. As a side effect of elevated blood pressure caused by diabetes, small blood vessels in the eye can be damaged. That harms the retina. It may manifest itself in the form of blurry vision, but it can also appear as rings around lights or dark spots in your field of vision.
Careful monitoring of glucose levels and blood pressure can help minimize the odds of eye problems from diabetes. Here again, an appropriate diet, including lowering cholesterol and a good exercise routine will keep blood pressure under control.
One of the follow on effects of continual high blood pressure may be damage to the nervous system. When blood vessels are impaired they’re less efficient at performing that essential function. Blood oxygenates the nerve cells. When deprived they will be impaired.
Controlling blood pressure will help reduce the odds of nervous system problems.
Kidneys help filter the blood to eliminate waste products and remove toxins. Diabetes can impair that filtering function. That may lead to protein leaking out of the kidneys and into the urine where it’s no longer available to the body for useful purposes. On the other hand, since the filtering function is less efficient, some waste products may go back into the bloodstream rather than being eliminated.
Keeping blood glucose level and blood pressure to the right level can help reduce the odds of kidney problems. In some cases, special medication (such as an ACE, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor or ARB, angiotensin receptor blocker) may be appropriate.
In all cases, the best course is to seek professional guidance for diagnosis and the appropriate treatments.