Islets of Hope for persons newly diagnosed with diabetes
Article by Lahle Wolfe. For reprint information e-mail: Editor@isletsofhope.com
Links to more comprehensive information on complications of diabetes
John A. Seneff
Complications of diabetes
Amputation * Blindness * Diabetic Ketoacidosis * Diabetic Neuropathy * Diabetic Retinopathy *
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 are a family of nerve disorders caused by diabetes. People with diabetes can, over time, have damage to nerves throughout the body. Neuropathies lead to numbness and sometimes pain and weakness in the hands, arms, feet, and legs. Problems may also occur in every organ system, including the digestive tract, heart, and sex organs. People with diabetes can develop nerve problems at any time, but the longer a person has diabetes, the greater the risk.
An estimated 50 percent of those with diabetes have some form of neuropathy, but not all with neuropathy have symptoms. The highest rates of neuropathy are among people who have had the disease for at least 25 years.
Diabetic neuropathy also appears to be more common in people who have had problems controlling their blood glucose levels, in those with high levels of blood fat and blood pressure, in overweight people, and in people over the age of 40. The most common type is peripheral neuropathy, also called distal symmetric neuropathy, which affects the arms and legs.
Nerve damage can cause other problems with diabetes:
Diabetic Retinopathy - High blood glucose levels damage delicate nerves in the eye. The retina is slowly destroyed and impaired vision or blindness may result.
Erectile Dysfunctions - 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. Also, see Sexual Problems and Urologic Problems
Foot & Skin 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 infections, 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.
Kidney Problems - Damage to nerves in the kidneys may cause life-long problems with this vital organ.
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) - Damage to nerves can lead to poor circulation in the legs.
Page Updated 03/23/2006