Ok, so everyone knows that I’m an upbeat, positive person overall, but I’m not going to sugarcoat anything when it comes to this blog post. Whether it be type 1 vs type 2 diabetes we all know that we can be up against some serious, long term complications when it comes to battling diabetes on a daily basis 24/7/365. Its ruthless, its relentless, and probably worse of all, it never takes a day off.
Even when we feel like breaking down, giving up and throwing out the dreaded F-bomb because we’ve just had enough of the finger sticks, insulin injections, 2am lows, I’m here to show you why that is never a good idea. Why you need to push through and dig deeper even when you feel like giving up. Always remain vigilant and push through even when you don’t feel like doing so, here’s why!
Glaucoma And Diabetes:
When fluid inside the eye does not drain properly from a buildup of pressure inside the eye, it results in another eye problem with diabetes called glaucoma. The pressure damages nerves and the vessels in the eye, causing changes in vision.
Treatment of open-angle glaucoma, the most common form of glaucoma requires lowering the eye’s pressure by increasing the drainage of aqueous humor or decreasing the production of the fluid. Medications can accomplish both of these goals.
With open-angle glaucoma, there may be no symptoms of this eye problem at all until the disease is very advanced and there is significant vision loss. In the less common form of this eye problem, symptoms can include headaches, eye aches or pain, blurred vision, watering eyes, halos around lights, and loss of vision.
Treatment of this eye problem in diabetes can include special eye drops, laser procedures, medicine, or surgery. Surgery and laser treatments are directed at improving the eye’s aqueous drainage. You can prevent serious eye problems in diabetes problems by getting an annual glaucoma screening from your eye doctor.
Increase In Cardiovascular Disease?
Cardiovascular disease includes blood vessel disease, heart attack and stroke. It is the leading cause of death in Australia. The risk is greater for people with diabetes, who often have increased cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Smoking, having a family history of cardiovascular disease and being inactive also increase your risk.
To reduce your risk and pick up any problems early:
- Have your blood pressure checked at least every six months, but more often if you have high blood pressure or are taking medication to lower this.
- Have your cholesterol checked at least yearly, as well as an HbA1c (average blood glucose over the past three months).
- Further pathology tests such as an electrocardiogram (ECG) or exercise stress test may also be recommended by your doctor.
Kidney Damage, Nephropathy:
People with diabetes are at risk of kidney disease (nephropathy) due to changes in the small blood vessels of the kidneys. Kidney disease is painless and does not cause symptoms until it is advanced.
Screening is very important. Kidney damage can be diagnosed early by detecting microalbumin (very small amounts of protein) in the urine. Everyone with diabetes should have a urine check for microalbumin at least once a year. Your doctor will also monitor your kidney function, including estimated glomerular filtration rate (e-GFR), with a blood test.
If problems are picked up early, nephropathy can be slowed or prevented with appropriate treatment. Medications called ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor antagonists help to protect the kidneys from further damage. These tablets can also be used to treat high blood pressure.
Associated Skin Problems:
People with diabetes may experience very dry skin due to damage to the small blood vessels and nerves. A common problem for people with diabetes is very dry skin on the feet but this may be more generalized.
There are also other skin conditions related to diabetes. High blood glucose levels over time can affect the health of the skin. As the skin acts as a barrier to protect our bodies from invading organisms it is important that it is kept as healthy as possible. If the skin becomes dry it can lead to cracks and potential entry of harmful organisms.
To reduce the risk of skin problems:
- Make sure your blood glucose is well controlled – keep your blood glucose levels and HbA1c within recommended ranges to reduce the risk of skin infections.
- Wear gloves when you use household cleaners and solvents or better yet, avoid them all together and use certified toxic free cleaners that avoid harsh chemicals
- Avoid very hot baths and showers.
- Take care not to have your feet too close to heaters, especially if you have neuropathy, as you may not be able to feel the intensity of the heat.
- Use toxic free creams & lotion on your skin after bathing, preferably one that is not perfumed. Use toxic free non-scented soaps.
- If you notice you have a skin problem, see your doctor.
Diabetes And Oral Care:
Did you know diabetes can also cause problems in your mouth? People with diabetes are at special risk for periodontal (gum) disease, an infection of the gum and bone that hold the teeth in place. Periodontal disease can lead to painful chewing difficulties and even tooth loss. Dry mouth, often a symptom of undetected diabetes, can cause soreness, ulcers, infections, and tooth decay and smoking makes these problems worse.
Good blood glucose control is key to controlling and preventing mouth problems. People with poor blood glucose control get gum disease more often and more severely than people whose diabetes is well controlled. Daily brushing and flossing, regular dental check-ups and good blood glucose control are the best defense against the oral complications of diabetes.
Some complications of diabetes occur after years, even decades of having the disease, and sometimes people don’t even have any noticeable symptoms. That’s why it’s so important to follow your diabetes management plan and taking an active role in your health by getting regular medical care and checkups with your diabetes health care team. They can detect many diabetes problems before they start causing symptoms and help you get the treatment you need.
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