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Diabetic Disorders and Complications

Posted by Andrew Bicknell on Dec 23rd, 2007 in Information

Diabetes is a disease that if left untreated will lead to a wide range of complications involving a variety of bodily organs and systems. These complications are all very serious and can be crippling or deadly. For the diabetic the best way to prevent or minimize any disorder arising from their disease is through proper management of their disease. This is accomplished through lifestyle changes involving diet, exercise, medication and regular visits to the doctor.

The primary cause for many of these complications revolves around high blood glucose (sugar) levels and the damage that it causes.

  1. Diabetic Retinopathy - This condition involves the retina of the eye. The capillaries of the retina undergo changes that lead to decreased blood flow, known as ischemia. This leads to the presence of exudates or fluid in the eye, “cotton wool” patches on the retina, and a build up of fibrous tissue. This will result in vision impairment and even blindness if the diabetes is not properly managed. There is also an increased risk of cataracts due to high levels of glucose in the lens of the eye.
  2. Diabetic Ketoacidosis - This is primarily a condition that is specific to type 1 diabetes. It occurs when there is an insulin deficit and glucose can not enter the cells to be used for energy. The body responds by metabolizing fat and protein which causes blood pH to drop and the dropping of ketone bodies into the urine. This affects respirations, which can have a fruity smell, disrupts heart function, depresses the central nervous system, drops blood pressure, and a number of other symptoms which can lead to coma and death.
  3. Diabetic Neuropathy - Neuropathy is a deterioration or loss of nerve function. It is caused primarily by a thickening of the blood vessels that supply the nerves with nutrients. The symptoms first start in the toes and feet and work their way up to the rest of the body.
  4. Diabetic Nephropathy - A disorder of the kidneys, diabetic nephropathy affects about 20 to 40 percent of all diabetics. Although the exact cause is unknown it is believed that high glucose causes damage glomerulosclerosis which affects the filtering function of the kidneys. This disease is usually accompanied by high blood pressure which needs to be aggressively treated.
  5. Diabetic Hypoglycemia - Also known as low blood sugar this condition is common in those who have type 1 diabetes. It will occur in type 2 diabetics who are taking oral hypoglycemic medications. The symptoms, which include dizziness, lightheadedness, loss of consciousness and in severe cases coma and death are a result of a lack of glucose needed for proper brain function.
  6. Diabetic Cardiovascular Disease - Diabetes causes a variety of changes to the cardiovascular system of it sufferers including atherosclerosis, structural defects in the blood vessels and thickening of capillary basement membranes. All of this can lead an increased risk of coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.

Diabetes is a disease that affects all ages and types of people. Its effects can be devastating if not treated in a timely and appropriate manner. Left untreated it can cause serious health problems and even death. Everyone needs to be aware of this diseases and how some simple lifestyle changes can make the difference in the lives who suffer from diabetes.


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  4. What are the Complications of Diabetes?
  5. Diabetes and Vision Loss: Take Action Now
  6. Scientific Progress Against Diabetic Retinopathy
  7. Diabetes - A Disease Of The Modern Age
  8. Treating Hypertension for Diabetics
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