The most serious long term effects of diabetes occur when patients let their glucose remain at elevated levels for long periods of time. Early detection can reduce some of the long term effects if treated properly and patient follows a regime of healthy life style, including proper diet, exercise, medications as prescribed and monitoring of blood glucose levels on a regular basis. It is when these basics are not followed that the patient will incur the long term effects damages such as neuropathy in the feet as well as heart and circulatory disease. All people with diabetes are high risk for these conditions but the risk increases greatly if the proper treatment plan designed by a medical health team is not followed.
I have heard that diabetes is a major concern in regards to foot issues and pain. My doctor explained to me that people with diabetes and high blood sugar levels over time develop a disease known as diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy (DPN). This is the result of nerve damage to the nerves in the feet, and can progress to diabetic Nerve Pain or painful DPN (nDPN). This can feel like a burning, throbbing or painful tingling sensation in feet or hands. About 60% of diabetics will be affected by neuropathy and once the damage is done to the nerves there is little chance of reversal.
Lost vision is always a major concern when people are diagnosed with diabetes and the medical name for this is Diabetic Retinopathy. Diabetic Retinopathy is damage that occurs to the retina of the eye because of lack of blood supply brought about by diabetes mellitus. Diabetes causes a buildup or accumulation of fats on the inner walls of the blood vessels depriving the retina the much needed blood supply and it is then that retinopathy happens. In type 1 diabetes almost all are affected by retinopathy and even in type 2 almost 60% will have vision problems due to this reason.
Can diabetes affect kidneys? A disease called diabetic nephropathy is caused by diabetes mellitus inflicting damage to the kidneys. About 30% of diabetics will end up with hardening of the renal arteries. This hardening will decrease the ability for blood to be supplied to the kidneys. Symptoms such as swelling ankles, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, hypertension, mental disorders, poor appetite, dry skin and fatigue may be present. Treatment for his is basically dialysis or kidney transplantation.
Heart disease is one of the more serious diseases that is directly linked to diabetes. Diabetes can harden the walls of the major arteries leading to and from the heart causing the blood supply to the heart to be seriously reduced. This problem can result in a wide variety of problems that could include: Hypertension, atherosclerosis, stroke, angina pectoris and myocardial infarctions.
Symptoms of these problems can range from shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue and weakness, edema, palpitation and extreme perspiration. With diabetics the problem arises when because of neuropathy pain nerves may be deadened and the heart could have what is known as silent heart attacks. The most common treatment for blocked or reduced flow arteries is angioplasty, which consists of running a thin tube into the artery affected, inflating a miniature balloon and then implanting a stent to keep the artery from collapsing once the balloon and wire are removed. Smoking is still considered for both cardiovascular and diabetes patients to be extremely dangerous.