With diabetes comes an increased risk for developing some serious complications such as heart disease and kidney disease. The good news is that keeping blood glucose levels under control can reduce or delay your chances of developing serious health problems from the disease.
Several studies such as the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) and the United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study clearly demonstrated that tight blood glucose control (keeping blood glucose levels at or near normal levels) reduces the chances of developing serious health problems.
Complications Related to Living with Diabetes
Uncontrolled high blood sugar increases your risk for developing heart and blood vessel disease. This can lead to heart attacks and strokes, which is the leading cause of death for people with diabetes. Microvascular (small blood vessel) complications from diabetes include damage to eyes (retinopathy), kidneys (nephropathy) and nerves (neuropathy). These complications if not cared for properly can lead to loss of eyesight, renal failure and nerve damage.
High blood glucose and high blood pressure damage the kidneys’ filter. When the kidneys are damaged, proteins leak out of the kidneys into the urine. The urinary albumin test detects this loss of protein in the urine. Damaged kidneys do a poor job of filtering waste and extra fluid. Excess waste and fluid can build up in your blood because it is not being excreted through the urine. This can lead to kidney failure and a lifetime of dialysis.
Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in individuals 20-74. Having high blood glucose and high blood pressure over a long period of time can damage these tiny blood vessels and cause cataracts and glaucoma.
Diabetes requires 24/7 care to stay in good blood glucose control. There is no vacation from diabetes – the need for care doesn’t stop at school, work, play – anytime! All of the energy required to stay on top of a chronic illness like diabetes can result in burnout, where people grow tired of managing diabetes and may start to ignore it for days, weeks, months – or longer!
- Some good links to help you are from the Joslin Diabetes Center and the Behavioral Diabetes Institute.
- Dr. William Polonsky’s book, Diabetes Burnout can be purchased on amazon.com.
Diabetes and Depression
People with diabetes are at a higher risk for developing depression than people without diabetes. Signs and symptoms of depression can be found here.
There are many ways to find support to help you cope with depression. Finding a support group at a local hospital or clinic can help. Some people with diabetes find that volunteering at local schools, Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi events or at their church helps them cope. Some other links to help you are from the Dialogue on Diabetes and Depression website and the Joslin Diabetes Center.
Follow these links to learn more about diabetes complications and how to treat certain complications: