Diabetes is a scary disease because once you are diagnosed, there is no going back. And the worst part is, the number of people suffering from it around the world has crossed the 500 million mark already!
Given all these scary facts, and the rate at which our modern lifestyle is making this situation worse, it pays to know everything you can about this condition in case you end up getting diagnosed or are living with it already.
So, here's what diabetes does to your body.
1. It damages your blood vessels.
High blood sugar is known to damage the elasticity of your blood vessels, causing them to constrict and become narrower over time. This can lead to macrovascular complications, like heart attack or stroke, or microvascular complications, like organ damage.
In fact, the risk of dying because of stroke or heart disease is known to increase by four times in those suffering from diabetes.
2. It damages your nerves.
Because of poor blood circulation, over the course of many years (sometimes 20 years after diagnosis), diabetics develop nerve damage (a.k.a neuropathy). The most common site for this is in the toes, hands, and legs, and gives rise to numbness in the area and increased incidence of injury due to desensitization.
3. It can lead to kidney failure.
According to a consensus by the American Diabetes Association, 44% of all kidney failures reported in the United Stated in the year 2011 were because of diabetic microvascular complications.
This is because when the blood vessels in your kidneys are damaged, your kidneys fail to filter out waste material efficiently. This leads to toxic matter build-up within the kidneys, ultimately resulting in kidney failure.
4. It can cause blindness.
Diabetic retinopathy may not be the leading cause of blindness around the world, but it is a big cause for concern when you are suffering from diabetes because microvascular damage can over time cause swelling and detachment of the different layers of the retina.
There is no cure for blindness caused by diabetic retinopathy.
5. It causes gastroparesis.
Gastroparesis is a condition where the natural movement of food down your gastrointestinal tract is slowed down. It's one of the commonest long-term complications of diabetes and is caused by nerve damage.
Symptoms of this problem include nausea, bloating, acid reflux, and abdominal pain.
6. It affects your sex life.
Microvascular and neurological complications of diabetes are known to cause sexual dysfunction, especially in men who have three times more risk of developing impotence.
In women, it can lead to vaginal dryness, low sex drive, and painful intercourse.
7. It impairs wound healing.
Poor circulation caused by microvascular damage is the main reason why wounds, especially those in the peripheries of the body, tend to take a long time to heal in those suffering from diabetes.
Plus, the sugar-laden tissues are ideal for microbial growth, which is why these wounds often fester and become gangrenous.
8. It affects the health of your skin.
In the early years after diagnosis, diabetics often complain of increased dryness of their skin and development of dark patches (a.k.a acanthosis nigrans). But over the years, they become very prone to suffer from boils, styes, and athlete's foot.
Some people even develop round, brown scales, which is a complication unique to diabetes.
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Yes, diabetes is scary. But it doesn't have to be so if you know its complications and take precautions.
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