Complications of Diabetes

Complications of Diabetes

How to Avoid Complications of Diabetes and live a healthy life.

Introduction

Complications of Diabetes are those conditions in which diabetic patients suffer from the effects of high blood sugar levels on different parts or organs of the body.

In my previous blogs/articles on diabetes[Click these nos. above ¹ ² ³ ] I had discussed in detail about signs/symptoms, investigations, and treatment of diabetes.

Having understood what diabetes is, its investigations, and treatment, we now move on to know what can happen if the patient neglects the advice of his healthcare physician.

For whom is this article about complications of diabetes important and why?

This article is meant basically for those patients who are already undergoing treatment for diabetes. Slight negligence of advice on the part of the patient can lead to serious health issues. So, as per the headline of this article, the idea behind it is to help patients avoid complications of diabetes and to live a healthy life.

The purpose behind writing this article is to spread awareness regarding complications of diabetes and not to scare the patient but help him/her to prevent it.

Before we proceed ahead, I would like you all to listen to this short podcast-https://player.captivate.fm/episode/69757f35-ddf2-47e4-8415-e364cfe54521

What are these complications of diabetes?

As far as different complications of diabetes and their treatments are concerned, the subject is quite vast. Hence, I have decided to break up the article into many small parts for a better understanding of each complication.

The Minor Complications[mentioned below] have been covered in previous articles and so will not be discussed here.

In this article, I will discuss in brief about the various major complications. As we go ahead, each complication will be taken up individually. They will be discussed in detail so that you can take timely and preventive action.

Coming to the complications, they can present as-

A] Minor Complications of Diabetes-

  • Hypoglycemia- a side-effect of overmedication or undernutrition i.e. not eating food on time as prescribed by his/her physician[Read here to know more]
  • Hyperglycemia- exactly the opposite of hypoglycemia. Here the patient is non-compliant as far as medication is concerned and does not have control over his diet.

B] Major Complications of Diabetes-

1]Infections

Infections of different tissues in our body is a  very common complication of diabetes.

We are all prone to some infection or the other in our lifetime. What stands out in the case of a diabetic patient is the severity of any infection that the patient suffers from. These patients mostly have uncontrolled blood sugar levels. Most common infection the patient faces are-

A]Respiratory tract infections-

Both upper and lower respiratory tract infections occur as complications of diabetes.

B]Urinary tract infection-

this includes the kidney, ureter, bladder, and the urethra.

C]Skin Infections-

Occurs mostly due to dryness of the skin making the patient prone to bacterial and fungal infections

D]Gastrointestinal infections-

such as cholecystitis[gallbladder infection] and enteritis[intestinal]

2]Retinopathy

a condition where our eye gets affected due to poor blood sugar control causing poor blood supply. The optic nerve supplying the screen of the eye-Retina-gets affected leading to blindness.Complication of Diabetes-Retinopathy

3]Angiopathies

a condition where our blood vessels are affected leading to a lack of blood supply to different parts of the body. They are again classified as-

Macroangiopathy, and

Microangiopathy.

Most of the other conditions mentioned in this article are directly or indirectly related to angiopathy. The above picture of the eye shows microangiopathy.

4]Diabetic Polyneuropathy[DPN]

As the name suggests DPN is related to our nervous system. It is the most common complication of diabetes. It can affect up to 50% of diabetic patients during their lifetime.

A Complication of Diabetes-Peripheral neuropathy
A Complication of Diabetes-Peripheral neuropathy

5]Diabetic Foot disease

This complication of diabetes is a combination of both antipathy[Macro- as well as Micro-] and Peripheral Neuropathy. Foot ulcers occur due to loss of sensation and loss of blood supply to the foot tissues. The patient does not feel pain leading to abuse of foot creating ulcers that are difficult to treat ultimately leading to gangrene[rotting of tissues] and amputation.

6]Diabetic Ketoacidosis-

 This is by far the most dangerous of all the complications of diabetes. In this condition, the tissues in our body cannot take up glucose due to absolute or relative deficiency of insulin. This is common in Type1 diabetes. It also occurs sometimes in Type2 DM where the patient has not adhered to his treatment regimen and/or is suffering from some infection. I will discuss this in detail when we come to this complication later.

7]Diabetic Nephropathy

Uncontrolled or poorly controlled blood-sugar levels lead to malfunctioning of kidneys. It does this by affecting the filtration units of the kidneys-the glomerulus. This is called Glomerulosclerosis and it causes kidney failure or chronic kidney disease in the long run.

8] Pregnancy-

A female diabetic patient can get complications during the course of pregnancy such as abortion, or antenatal [in-pregnancy] uterine bleeding which can retard fetal growth. Poorly controlled diabetes can also lead to the baby being born large for its age.

I will now discuss these complications in detail in the forthcoming articles as we go along. Before going on to the next level I would like to share some information which is quite important-

Can you imagine how many people are living with Complications of Diabetes worldwide and how many in India?

As per the latest statistics on the total number of diabetes patients, China led the number with 116.4 million and India coming second with 77 million patients. The cases in India are increasing rapidly. According to the International Diabetes Federation, it was 40.9 million in 2015 and is set to cross 69.4 million by 2025. This includes pre-diabetes, diabetes without complications, and those with complications.

That said, it will be now up to us to bring this number to manageable levels so that diabetic patients do not develop complications. How to do it, we will discuss in my future articles as we go ahead.

To know more about Complications of Diabetes you can read here on the site of IDF- Click here.

In my next article, I will be focussing on a major complication  – Retinopathy of Diabetes. This is an important topic as many of the diabetics with poor control land up having impaired vision and blindness. I will also be discussing its management.

For those who love the information in Hindi, Click here

Here is a short video that you can watch to know more about complications of Diabetes- linkhttps://youtu.be/HdR4CTm4Ptg

Do post your comments and if you have any suggestions to add, kindly do so.