Islets of Hope  complications of diabetes

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Diabetic Ketoacidosis
Diabetic Neuropathy
Diabetic Retinopathy
Eating Disorders
Erectile Dysfunctions
Foot & Skin Problems
Frozen Shoulder
Gum Disease
Heart Problems
High Blood Pressure
Insulin Shock
Kidney Problems
Lactic Acidosis
Seizures & Coma
Peripheral Artery Disease
Sexual Problems
Urologic Problems
Weight Gain
Weight Loss
Wound Care

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diabetes information medical library - complications

Complications of Diabetes   
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To go directly to a topic, use the links in the sidebar on the left.  If you want more detail about each section, browse and use the links below.

numb toes aching soles  John A. Seneff
Numb Toes and Aching Souls:  This is, in a nutshell, the best current work on the subject of neuropathy for lay people. It explains the problem, goes through the rational for treatment, and discusses the treatments one by one. In addition to the use of  PO medication, it covers vitamin therapy, physical therapies, psychotherapy and for patients who fail standard treatments, it covers alternative therapies such as plasmapheresis and hyperbaric oxygen. Seneff also covers experimental treatments still in clinical studies. His treatment of the subject is comprehensive and empathetic. He  devotes a chapter to coping skills, which will benefit all diabetes patients. The sections on physical modalities are also very valuable. Many of these patients are on multiple medications already and are reluctant to take additional medicines.. Senneff found that many patients have gotten considerable relief from non-med


Amputation -  New procedures in amputation now limit the extensiveness of the operation.  Learn about a limb-saving surgical procedure that many American doctors have been slow to perform.  Also, causes, treatment, and prevention of ulcerations that can lead to amputation.

Taking Care of Your Feet
Diabetes-Related Amputation Statistics
How Problems Can Occur
Amputation Procedures and Rate of Success
Preventive Care for Diabetes-Related Complications
Resources and Information about Amputation

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Blindness - People often think of diabetes and automatically associate blindness and amputation.  By keeping your blood glucose in target range as often as possible and seeing your opthomologist regularly, you can greatly reduce the risk of blindness as a complication of diabetes.  Also included in this section are products designed for persons with diabetes and a visual impairment.  (See our section on "Diabetic Retinopathy" for more diabetes-related information about eye problems. and list of famous Blind Persons.

What is the Definition of Blind?
Causes of Blindness
Adaptive Techniques
Tools and Aids for the Blind
Social Attitudes About the Blind

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Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) - When not enough insulin is present blood glucose runs too high.  The body begins to use fat stores as an energy source.  Ketones, a byproduct of burned fat, are produced and quickly reach dangerous levels.  High ketones lead to a state called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) which can result in coma, or death.

What is Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)?
Warning Signs and Symptoms of DKA
Clinical Symptoms
Why it is Important to Call Your Doctor
When to Call Your Doctor
DKA in Type 2 Diabetes
Ketone Test Strips
Treatment of DKA
Advanced DKA
Nonketotic Hyperosmolar Coma
Complications of DKA
Why Hospitalization? Why canít I just take more insulin on my own?
Living Smart:  Preventing DKA

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Diabetic Neuropathy - When blood glucose levels are too high, delicate nerves throughout the body can be destroyed.  Diabetic neuropathy can lead to blindness, loss of sensation in extremities, amputation, and impotence.  Neuropathy can also slow down the digestive process, delaying exit of food from the stomach.  This condition, called gastroparesis, can cause hyperglycemia (elevated blood glucose levels).  

Diabetic Neuropathies:  The Damage of Nerves
Causes of Neuropathy
Symptoms of Neuropathy
Types of Diabetic Neuropathy
Neuropathy Affects Nerves Throughout the Body
Peripheral Neuropathy
Autonomic Neuropathy
Proximal Neuropathy
Focal Neuropathy
Preventing Diabetic Neuropathy
Treatment for Neuropathy
Points to Remember
Hope Through Research
For More Information

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Diabetic Retinopathy - High blood glucose levels damage delicate nerves in the eye.  The retina is slowly destroyed and impaired vision or blindness may result. 

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?
Risk Factors
Causes of Diabetic Retinopathy
Signs and Symptoms
How can diabetes hurt my eyes?
How can diabetes hurt the retinas of my eyes?
What happens as diabetes retina problems get worse?
What can I do about diabetes retina problems?
Does diabetes cause other eye problems?
What can I do to prevent diabetes eye problems?

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Eating Disorders - The Association for Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders (ANRED) reports that those with diabetes are at high risk for developing eating disorders.  Those with diabetes may be more likely to develop anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating habits than for the general population. (Eating Disorders section is found under "Disorders with Diabetes," however, it is also a complicating factor in diabetes care management so we have included the link under "Complications" as well.

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Erectile Dysfunction (Impotence) - Erectile dysfunctions affects up to half of all men with diabetes.  It strikes more often in those with type 2, but also affects persons with type 1.  Learn about the symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention of erectile dysfunction. Also see "Urologic Problems."

A Common Problem
What is Erectile Dysfunction?
Symptoms of ED (impotence)
Diagnosing Erectile Dysfunction
Emotional and Psychological Impact
Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction
Prevention and Treatment for Diabetes Related ED

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Foot Problems - Elevated glucose levels damage nerves throughout the body, including the feet.  Careful, daily examination of your feet is vital.  Small cuts and wounds can become severely infected due to poor circulation resulting from diabetic neuropathy.  Wounds not properly cared for can even lead to gangrene and amputation. Read excerpts from  NIH's publication on Foot and Skin Care, or IOH's special section on foot problems and care tips.

How can diabetes hurt my feet?
What can I do to take care of my feet?
How can I get my doctor to help me take care of my feet?
What are common diabetes foot problems?
How can special shoes help my feet?
How can diabetes hurt my skin?
What can I do to take care of my skin?
For More Information

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Gastroparesis -  Neuropathy (nerve damage) can slow down the digestive process, delaying exit of food from the stomach.  This condition, called gastroparesis, can cause hyperglycemia (elevated blood glucose levels).  

What is Gastroparesis?
Signs and Symptoms
Complications of Gastroparesis
Major Causes of Gastroparesis
Points to Remember

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Gum Disease -  Are you taking good care of your gums and teeth?  Learn how diabetes can cause damage to gums and teeth and what you can do about it now! 

How can diabetes hurt my teeth and gums?
How do I know if I have damage to my teeth and gums?
How can I keep my teeth and gums healthy?
How can my dentist take care of my teeth and gums?
For More Information  

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Heart Problems - Those with diabetes should keep blood glucose in target ranges whenever possible, exercise regularly, have a stress management plan, and follow a meal plan designed by a registered dietitian especially for their lifestyle and type of diabetes. 

What do my heart and blood vessels do?
What can I do to prevent heart disease and stroke?
How do my blood vessels get clogged?
What can happen when blood vessels are clogged?
What are the warning signs of a heart attack?
How does heart disease cause high blood pressure?
What are the warning signs of a stroke?
How can clogged blood vessels hurt my legs and feet?
What can I do to prevent or control peripheral vascular disease?

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High Blood Pressure - Diabetes can be associated with high blood pressure and a poor lipid profile, which can lead to stroke or heart attack.  If you have diabetes and high blood pressure be sure to follow  lifestyle recommendations made, and medications prescribed, by your physician. 

What is blood pressure?
-- Systolic Pressure
-- Diastolic Pressure
What is normal blood pressure?
(Chart) Blood Pressure Values
What do the numbers mean?
Signs and Symptoms
Causes  (Etiology & Pathophysiology)
Complications and Emergencies
Diabetes and High Blood Pressure
When is hypertension diagnosed?
Distinguishing Between Primary vs. Secondary Hypertension
Treatment - Lifestyle Modifications and Medication
Epidemiology and Prevalence

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Infections and Gangrene - A combination of things can lead to an increase in infections for persons with diabetes.  Infections include illness, wound infection, and yeast infections.

What is an infection?
Diabetes and Infections: Risk Factors and Prevention
History of Infection Treatments
What is gangrene?
Types of Gangrene
Wet Gangrene
Dry Gangrene  

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Infertility - Diabetes, and certain disorders that are sometimes associated with diabetes (such as polycystic ovarian syndrome and thyroid disorders) may lead to primary or secondary infertility.  The section also includes links to our "Adoption" information pages. 

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Insulin Shock - When too much insulin is given, too little food is eaten with insulin, or during exercise, blood glucose levels can drop dangerously low resulting in "insulin shock."  Untreated, a person can lose consciousness, slip into coma, or die. 

What is Insulin Shock?
What are Normal Blood Glucose Ranges?
Symptoms of Insulin Shock
The Dangers of Insulin Shock

Bath Time
Brittle Diabetes

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Kidney Problems - A long-term concern for persons with diabetes is kidney failure.  Keeping blood glucose under tight control will help reduce the risk of kidney problems.  A low protein diet can also help minimize your risk.  See "Prevent Diabetes Problems: Keep Your Kidneys Healthy," and "Kidney Disease of Diabetes." 


Section 1
What are diabetes problems?
What should I do each day to stay healthy with diabetes?
What do my kidneys do?
How can I prevent diabetes kidney problems?
How can my doctor protect my kidneys during special x-ray tests?
How can diabetes hurt my kidneys?
What can I do if I have diabetes kidney problems?
How will I know if my kidneys fail?
What happens if my kidneys fail?
Will I know if I start to have kidney problems?
How can I find out if I have kidney problems?
For More Information

Section 2
Two Types of Diabetes
The Course of Kidney Disease
Effects of High Blood Pressure
Preventing and Slowing Kidney Disease
Dialysis and Transplantation
Good Care Makes a Difference
Hope Through Research

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Lactic Acidosis - This deadly complication may be caused by diabetic ketoacidosis or liver or kidney disease, as well as some forms of medication, most notably metformin also sold as "Glucophage," which is often prescribed for persons with type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and women for polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

What is Lactic Acidosis?
What is Metabolic Acidosis?
Signs and Symptoms

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Seizures and Coma - When blood glucose falls too low, seizures can result.  Many people do not realize that seizures does not mean convulsions.  Learn the signs and nature of seizures and what to do!   Also, special nonscientific reports from other parents whose children have had seizures.

What is diabetic coma?
What causes diabetic coma?
-- Coma from Insulin Shock (severe hypoglycemia)
Coma from Hyperglycemia
What is a diabetic seizure?
-- Grand mal (tonic) seizure
-- Complex partial seizure
What is a convulsion?
Convulsions and Seizures from Nighttime Hyperglycemia
Why it is important to wear medical information

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Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) - Have leg pains?  You should read this article! 

What is Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)?
Signs and Symptoms
Risk Factors
Stage Classification
Diabetes and PAD
References and Source Links

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Urologic Problems -  This section contains information about urologic (bladder) and sexual problems for both men and women.  Men may also wish to see our "Erectile Dysfunction" section. 

Diabetes and Sexual Problems
Sexual Problems in Men With Diabetes
Sexual Problems in Women With Diabetes
Diabetes and Urologic Problems

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Weight Gain - Weight gain is often associated with type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, as well as disorders often associated with diabetes (hashimoto's thyroiditis and polycystic ovarian syndrome).  Obesity can lead to long-term health problems and decrease fertility.  Weight gain can also occur in type 1 patients. 

 Weight Loss - Weight loss can occur in diabetes due to insufficient insulin present (high blood sugars and weight loss  result), a wasting disease, or from eating disorders. 

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Wound Care - Those with diabetes have an increased susceptibility to infections.  Wounds must be quickly and properly cared for in order to avoid chronic infections or amputation.  The risk of infection is reduced when blood glucose is tightly controlled.


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Page Updated 04/287/2006