Diabetes is a dangerous condition under which to live — especially if you aren’t properly caring for yourself. Those who live with diabetes must be careful to eat right and get enough exercise. Even though new medical advancements provide a much better outlook, they don’t mean anything if you can’t manage the symptoms. These are some of the worst long-term adverse health effects of mismanaged diabetes.
Without proper self-care, diabetics will likely sustain increasingly severe damage to blood vessels (most common in the legs, heart, and brain). Damage to smaller blood vessels is common in feet, kidneys, and eyes. Nerve damage is common. But long-term health effects will damage one system after another. You will notice digestive troubles, skin trouble, performance issues, and a weakened immune system.
Because those with diabetes often have increased cholesterol, it’s important to reduce consumption of meat and dairy products. Those who suffer from diabetes are also subject to increased blood pressure. These issues can lead to cardiovascular disease. Do you have a family history of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or both? You’re even more at risk.
Diabetics are subject to various eye diseases, including retinopathy, macular oedema, cataracts, and glaucoma. These diseases can result in permanent damage and loss of vision, and sometimes present with few or no symptoms. If you suspect that your vision is impaired due to diabetes complications, seek medical attention immediately!
Diabetics are also subject to kidney disease because of damage to small blood vessels. This is another complication that might present with few or no symptoms at first.
Severe nerve damage might also occur. This is due to high blood glucose, alcoholism, and vitamin B12 deficiencies, the last of which might result from diabetes medications. Nerve damage often presents in feet, legs, hands, arms, chest, and stomach. Damage to appendages is one of the reasons why diabetics are at risk of infection or amputation.
The feet are especially prone to nerve damage when blood supply is reduced or restricted. More serious complications often arise because the body’s natural healing processes are slowed dramatically while the risk of infection is increased. Those who suffer from diabetes might note numbness or reduced feeling in the feet. Ulcers are common.
The structural purpose of skin is to reduce the probability of infection. Diabetes often results in excessively dry skin — and that means an increased opportunity for infection everywhere.
Tooth decay and gum infections also result from restricted blood flow.
Because other health issues can result in increased levels of stress, diabetics are more susceptible to mental health problems. Anxiety and depression can also result in fluctuations in glucose levels, making the disease even more dangerous.
Technology has come a long way in the last five years — especially wearable devices and what they’re capable of reporting. It’s not just about the “number of daily steps” or monitoring heart rate anymore. And that’s great, because about 9 percent of the world’s population has now been diagnosed as having Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. We need new ways of diagnosing and managing the condition as it gets worse.
Heart disease and cancer continue to rank as the number one and two threats to our health as we age, but diabetes can lead to heart disease. Technology has always been a big part of understanding how and why diabetes affects us. Anyone growing up with diabetes in the last 30 years knows how to prick their finger with a needle so they can use a little handheld to find out if they have low blood sugar.
But what if we can be more consistent? What if we can show people what their long-term outlook is instead of just showing them what their day will be like?
That’s what the smartwatch revolution is trying to accomplish.
Insulin users have been wearing continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices for a few years now. There’s no longer a need to prick your finger. These devices help those who suffer from diabetes better manage their condition, lowering the risks of serious side effects (like the aforementioned heart disease).
But smartwatches are capable of providing the same information, and much more. Dexcom CTO Jake Leach said, “The smartphone platform really opened up a lot of functionality that is not typical in medical devices.”
He says that these technologies are really great for parents whose children are suffering from diabetes: “The parent has the safety blanket of knowing how things are going. They can set up alerts and alarms that can communicate if there’s an issue that has to be dealt with, so they don’t have to worry as much.”
The devices can also be used for research purposes. Diabetic patients can opt to have the CGM reading continuously uploaded to servers where the information is then used to make even better gizmos.
Leach said, “The folks that utilize that technology have better glucose control than those that don’t and we kind of attributed it to the fact that they’ve got others helping them manage their diabetes…Diabetes is such an evolutionary thing and it develops over time and changes. You have to always be looking to change the way of managing it.”
Diabetes is a very serious condition that is affecting growing numbers of people in the United States.
While there is no cure for it, it can be managed in such a way that most diabetics with some vigilance can live as full and healthy life as any other person, and do many of the same things that other people can do – including diet and exercise.
The key word in that paragraph is “vigilance.”
Vigilance in monitoring and controlling diabetes is the real key to living a normal life in Tampa, Timbuktu or Toledo. And that vigilance – almost an obsessive-compulsive level – is important for doing even selfless things for other people – such as giving blood.
As diabetes is a blood-sugar issue, it can be seen that diabetic blood may not be the best-suited for blood donations to help keep people alive and whole. But there is nothing precluding those with diabetes from donating blood per se, as diabetes isn’t about the blood itself and making it unhealthy, but it’s about the blood sugar level in the blood.
Those who wish to donate blood go through a full health screening, whether he or she is a diabetic or not. The fact that you have diabetes will be noted, and the diabetic must affirm that the blood sugar is controlled and that the person is truly vigilant in monitoring the sugar levels, are taking medication as prescribed and/or is executing a consistent diet and exercise program.
Provided all that is verified and the work continues, most blood clinics will allow a diabetes patient to donate blood without much restriction. However, it is always a good idea to consult with your doctor prior to donating any blood, just to make sure all the bases are covered. Normally, you should be able to donate blood every two months or so, but you should never do it if you are not feeling well.
Some key things to consider:
- Avoid any strenuous activities for at least 24 hours after a donation.
- Increase your fluids for several days after donating. If you usually drink eight cups of water a day, consider pushing that to 10 cups a day for about a week after donating, for example.
- Do not go to donate while hungry or thirsty, but don’t’ fill your tummy right before donating; donate about 1-2 hours after eating.
- Make sure your blood sugar level is normal when you donate. The donation process takes an hour or so, and you don’t’ need your blood sugar level dropping during the 10 minutes of donation.
There are very few things as noble as giving blood, and those with diabetes should have every opportunity to be as noble as anyone else. Vigilance is key to charity.
Diabetes is one of those equal-opportunity diseases. It affects a wide cross-section of the population, with little regard to age, race, gender, or national origin.
While there are some tendencies toward higher risk in some groups, there is little doubt that diabetes can and does impact virtually anyone at any stage of life, and it is a lifelong affliction that can only be treated and not cured. (more…)
In today’s day and age, going out for a drink with a couple of work friends for Happy Hour is not unheard of. However, if you are suffering from diabetes, whether it’s type 1 or type 2, alcohol can have a myriad of effects on your blood sugar levels including hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).
Type-2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects how your body metabolizes sugar (or glucose, take your pick), the fuel that provides our bodies with energy. This is a direct result of how insulin in your body performs or, in some cases, the lack of insulin that your body produces. Many have speculated that consuming too much sugar over a period of time contributed to the onset of type-2 diabetes, and while this is neither confirmed nor denied, obesity has been listed as a contributing factor. Many complications can arise from having type-2 diabetes, such as heart and blood vessel disease, damage to various areas of the body (including nerves, eyes, feet and kidneys), as well as hearing impairment, skin conditions and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Along with a long list of other complications, gum disease can result from diabetes that is not properly controlled. The two main forms of gum disease are gingivitis and periodontitis. With gingivitis, the gums become red and swollen and may easily bleed. If not treated, this milder form of gum disease can become full-blown periodontitis, which is where the gums pull away from the teeth and infection takes a firm hold, leading to bone, tissue and tooth loss.
It’s heart-wrenching to watch all that people go through as natural disasters play out on our television screens. Tucked away, along with sympathy for those in the midst of a hurricane, earthquake, flood or other catastrophic events, is the very understandable thought, “I’m so glad that’s not happening to me!”. The truth is, however, that we are all susceptible to major life-changing events, and they can happen with very little notice. Those with a chronic medical condition, like diabetes, are especially vulnerable and should take seriously the advice to be prepared. (more…)
We all have our favorite holiday activities. It might be watching fireworks on the 4th of July, heading to the beach for Labor Day, as summer winds down, or finding the perfect pumpkin to carve for Halloween. For many of us, it’s the non-stop activities that seem to begin with the Macy’s Day Parade, early Thanksgiving morning, and continue through the last bowl game on New Year’s Day. But, no matter what holiday or activity tops your list, you can bet that it involves not only extreme amounts of food and drink but the kind designed to send blood sugar levels through the roof. (more…)
Diabetes has become so common in the U.S. that there may be a danger of losing sight of just how serious a disease it is. In the diabetic community, there has long been a saying that diabetes won’t kill you, but its complications will. The list of complications is long and includes, heart disease, nerve damage, kidney failure, foot and leg amputation, blindness, Alzheimer’s and a host of others. And, while the saying about diabetes not killing you may be catchy, the truth, according to the American Diabetes Association, is that, “Diabetes remains the 7th leading cause of death in the United States in 2015, with 79,535 death certificates listing it as the underlying cause of death, and a total of 252,806 death certificates listing diabetes as an underlying or contributing cause of death.” (more…)