Risks / Complications Of Uncontrolled Diabetes # 1

Uncontrolled diabetes is like a disaster waiting to happen. When the blood sugar is constantly high it affects the various parts of the body. Here are the major organs that are affected...

The common symptoms of problems arising due to uncontrolled diabetes:
We will see more about this as we discuss the individual organ. Now let us see the risks/ complications

1. Heart and Blood vessels - This is one of the major complications of uncontrolled diabetes. A large number of deaths take place in people with uncontrolled diabetes due to heart attack and stroke. If you are a diabetic, you are twice as likely to suffer heart attack / stroke compared to a person without diabetes.
In uncontrolled diabetes, the blood vessels are damaged and can lead to poor blood supply to the feet and periphery. Blood vessel damage and nerve damage is the major cause for feet problems and amputation in diabetics.

When the blood sugar levels are high, over a period of time, it leads to the deposit of fatty material inside the blood vessel walls. The blood vessels become narrow due to these fatty deposits and affect the blood flow and increase the risk of clogging and hardening of the blood vessels.

The risks of complications increase when the person has uncontrolled diabetes coupled with obesity, smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels
Here is how to prevent / delay the risk of heart disease/ stroke

1.      Eat a ‘heart healthy’ diet
·         Include lots of fiber rich food in the diet. Fiber helps in reducing weight, bringing down blood sugar and cholesterol levels and also avoids digestion problems.
·        Reduce the intake of saturated fats. This will increase the cholesterol levels. Saturated fat is fund in meats, shortenings, lard, dairy products with fat etc.
·        Keep the cholesterol in the diet to a very minimum. The body as such produces cholesterol and hence the amount of cholesterol through food must be very minimal. Reduce / avoid egg yolks, meats etc.
·        Check for trans fats in packaged foods. This also increases the blood cholesterol. The labels on the commercial products will have information of fat content. Check before you consume it. If the information is not provided cut down of all forms of baked goods like cookies, cakes, salad dressings, margarine, etc.

2. If you are smoking, it is best if you can quit as soon as possible

3 .Physical exercises is a must. Talk to your health care provider about the exercise that suits you best.

4. Maintain a healthy body weight.

5. TIA or Transient Ischemic Attacks occur in some people with diabetes. Get prompt treatment for TIA and also talk to your Doctor even before it strikes to be on the safer side.

2. Eyes : Diabetes is a major cause of blindness when the diabetes is not controlled properly. Most common eye problems include
The most common parts of the eyes that are affected are
The common symptoms of eye damage include
Diabetic eye problems can be prevented by going for regular eye checkups and keeping the blood sugar levels near normal.

3. Kidney diseases: Kidney failure due to uncontrolled diabetes is on the rise. Actually kidney disease takes several years to develop and manifest. First there occurs a condition called Microalbuminurea / Proteinurea where the albumin leaks into the urine.As the amount of albumin increases in the urine, the kidney’s filtering function starts dropping. As this stage develops, blood pressure begins to rise. It may take a long time, sometimes as long as 10 -15 years for the actual kidney failure to occur.

The presence of albumin can be detected by urine tests and when detected earlier can be treated.
When kidney disease due to diabetes is detected experts advice a diet in moderate protein. This can be followed after consulting a dietitian. When the patient has high blood pressure due to kidney failure, blood pressure medications are given. When kidneys fail to work dialysis or kidney transplantation is the final option.

To prevent kidney diseases, a diabetic patient must try to adhere to the following

·        Do routine blood and urine tests to detect the presence of albumin / detect the signs of kidney damage.
·        Take proper medications as advised by the Physician and also follow a diabetic diet, exercise regularly and a modification in life style is necessary.
·        Keep blood pressure, blood sugar within the normal limits.

I shall discuss the remaining risks and complications tomorrow....

Earlier in this series on Diabetes

Diabetes - An introduction
Gestational Diabetes-Part I
Gestational Diabetes- Part II
Handling diabetes under special situations
Exotic Diabetic Cooking-Book Review

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