Diabetes Complications

In diabetes, high levels of glucose are found in the blood (blood sugar) if the disease is not properly controlled. This occurs in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Short-term diabetic complications such as hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia (which in severe cases can result in ketoacidosis and diabetic coma) are typically the result of events of poor blood glucose management, and are mostly avoidable by having good daily regimens for maintaining glucose homeostasis.

Over time if high levels of glucose in the blood persist (hyperglycemia), damage can be done to the circulatory (cardiovascular), digestive, nervous, endocrine, exocrine, renal, muscular, immune, and reproductive systems. Typically long-term complications of diabetes occur to either small blood vessels (microvascular), such as those in the nerves, kidneys and eyes, or to large blood vessels (macrovascular) in the heart and other parts of the circulatory system (major veins and arteries). High cholesterol and blood pressure levels that are often seen in diabetics further exacerbate these complications.

More long-term disorders and diseases such as peripheral neuropathy, retinopathy, Alzheimer’s disease, kidney disease (nephropathy), certain cancers and cardiovascular disease(CVD), can and do often develop in diabetics with poor diabetes management. These complications can result in amputations, blindness, chronic pain, skin rashes and ulcers, and stroke and heart attacks, with the latter accounting for the majority of fatalities in diabetics.  

For diabetics, maintaining healthful and balanced lifestyles based around diverse whole food diets, physical activity and mindfulness can greatly reduce the risk and severity of diabetes complications. Self-monitoring glucose levels and forming integrated and personalized treatment plans with medical professionals can also prevent, delay or reduce the severity of many complications, allowing diabetics to live long, happy and productive lives.

Learn More About Diabetes Complications and How to Prevent and Manage Them

Diabetes Complications

Resources and Further Reading

For more about microvascular and macrovascular diabetes complications: http://clinical.diabetesjournals.org/content/26/2/77

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