Updated: October 20, 2021
Diabetes is a long-term condition that can possibly be reversed in some cases, and in other cases, it can be managed more efficiently to avoid potential complications. Learning about the dangerous complications of diabetes can help you take precautions to prevent these bad outcomes.
The journey to better quality health starts with knowledge.
Potential Complications of Inefficient Diabetes Management
Many complications are shared between type one diabetes (T1D) and type two diabetes (T2D), even though they’re different conditions. Both conditions can cause increased levels of blood glucose, which is very destructive over time.
Persistently high blood glucose levels deteriorate your arteries, leading to cardiovascular problems. The European Cardiology Review published a paper confirming the correlation between T2D and hypertension.
Arteries become narrowed and hardened, which is called atherosclerosis, and pressure builds in the arteries to keep blood pumping to vital organs. The problem is that over time, the organs become unable to manage blood pressure this high.
Diabetes is also responsible for the increased production of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is the bad cholesterol that builds plaque in your arteries, deteriorating them even further and contributing to high blood pressure.
This plaque development in the arteries contributes to the risk of heart disease and hypertension.
Neuropathy and Other Nerve Damage
The tingling sensations and numbness in your hands and feet are called peripheral neuropathy. Over time, uncontrolled diabetes causes damage to the small capillaries, which supply nerves with nutrients. The nerves become damaged due to decreased blood supply and nutrients, leading to the condition of neuropathy. It’s a very unpleasant complication.
Autonomic nerves connect every organ to the central nervous system (CNS) so that the brain can communicate with the organs and vice versa. These nerves are also subject to damage in patients with uncontrolled diabetes.
Autonomic neuropathy can impact the organs in your body, including the way they function. An example is the complication of an irregular heart rhythm caused by damage to the autonomic nerves connected to the heart.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
Uncontrolled blood glucose can also damage the small blood vessels in your kidneys, causing CKD when the kidneys can’t function and filter waste efficiently anymore.
Gastroparesis is a problem where the stomach is malfunctioning. The cause is uncontrolled diabetes, which damages the vagus nerve, the nerve supply to the stomach.
The stomach no longer properly moves food down the digestive tract and stalls your digestion.
Tooth decay isn’t only ignited by eating refined sugars. It’s also increased when the
blood vessels intended to provide nutrients to the gums are impaired by high levels of
Diabetes and persistently elevated glucose levels can interfere with or damage your
vision. You can suffer from:
● Glaucoma, which happens when pressure builds within your eyes
● Cataracts, which is the clouding of your eye lens
● Diabetic retinopathy, which happens when the blood vessels behind the retina become damaged
● Complete blindness
Blood vessel deterioration and associated hypertension from diabetes can increase your risk of stroke. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), your risk of having a stroke increases one and half times if you have diabetes.
Mismanaged glucose levels can lead to foot ulcers over time due to decreased circulation and nerve damage. Even worse, injuries to your feet can cause infections that could lead to gangrene and possible amputation.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you have to monitor your glucose and ketone levels, and depression often follows overwhelming stress. A lack of knowledge and the constant flow of stress hormones may cause depression in diabetics.
Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to trouble hearing, according to the American SpeechLanguage-Hearing Association (ASHA). Blood vessels and nerve cells are everywhere, including the ears.
Dementia is a degenerative disorder of the brain affecting memory, attention, and cognitive processing. The Alzheimer’s Association has seen an increase in the main type of dementia in diabetic patients.
The brain is comprised of multitudes of nerve cells, and high levels of glucose and insulin can damage these cells over time. Insulin can also harm the balance of hormones the brain needs to function properly.
High glucose levels encourage inflammation, which further damages the brain leading to additional difficulties with cognitive function.
Skin and Mouth Problems
Bacterial and fungal infections of the skin and mouth are common if T1D isn’t under control.
Uncontrolled diabetes is a dangerous condition during pregnancy. It can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, and birth defects.
Ketoacidosis is a dangerous shortage of insulin and overproduction of ketones, which are released from fatty acids in the liver when T1D is uncontrolled or undiagnosed. The body turns to fat for energy when there’s no insulin left for energy conversion.
Too many ketones can cause acidity in the bloodstream, leading to a life-threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis if not treated immediately. T1D people should never willingly induce ketoacidosis.
Every condition comes with potential complications, but it’s up to you to manage your diabetes carefully. Great advancements are being made to better manage T1D.
T2D patients can rely on supplementing their medication with lifestyle choices and better diets.