When you have diabetes, your blood sugar levels are higher than they should be. If you aren’t taking some proper precautions by making certain lifestyle adjustments, the high amount of sugar in your blood can cause certain problems and complications throughout the body.
Long-Term Complications of Diabetes
The most common long-term side effects of diabetes include complications that can harm your eyes, feet, nerves, kidneys, heart, blood vessels and brain. Without proper treatment, these complications can become serious and even life-threatening. These complications start out gradually, so it’s important to know what these side effects are so you can be properly prepared.
Some of the long-term side effects of diabetes include these types of complications:
- Eyes: Diabetes can cause trouble with vision as it damages the blood vessels of the retina, so if you’re experiencing blurred or spotty vision, watery eyes or even vision loss, see your doctor right away. It’s common for people with diabetes to get cataracts, glaucoma, or even go blind.
- Nerves: All the nerve endings in your body can be affected by high blood sugars, leading to tingling, numbness, or burning pain throughout your limbs. You may also have diabetic neuropathy, which is a disorder of the nervous system due to nerve damage.
- Feet and skin: The nerve damage associated with diabetes can also lead to other complications, especially in your feet and skin. Sores and infections may take a longer time to heal, and you could lose feeling altogether in your feet.
- Digestion: It’s common to have difficulty digesting food when you have diabetes; or you could have troubles with your bowels.
- Blood pressure: Often, a long-term side effect of diabetes is high blood pressure and trouble controlling your blood pressure. This can make it more difficult for blood to flow properly to your legs and feet.
- Kidneys: High blood pressure or protein in your urine can lead to damage in your kidneys or kidney disease. If you notice swelling in your hands, feet or face, these could be symptoms of a problem with your kidneys.
- Heart and brain: Diabetes increases your risk for heart disease and strokes, and can even increase your risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
Taking Control of Your Diabetes for a Healthy Life
Managing your diabetes is possible, provided you’re keeping your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels in a healthy range. You’ll need to check your blood sugar daily and make adjustments to your lifestyle, like eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and properly managing your diabetes medications. If you’re a smoker, it’s time to quit the habit, as smoking can worsen many long-term complications of diabetes. Check your feet often and wear the right kinds of socks and shoes to prevent damage to your feet.
Make sure you’re seeing your doctor often; it’s recommended you see a health care provider every three months to ensure your blood sugar levels, blood pressure, nerves, kidneys and eyes are all in good condition.
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