Diabetes: Reduce Your Risk of Diabetes Complications With Simple Lifestyle Changes
Diabetes: Uncontrolled blood sugar levels are can cause many complications. A diabetic needs to control blood sugar levels to avoid the complications of diabetes. Simple lifestyle changes can help a diabetic patient control blood sugar levels.
Diabetes complications: Control your blood sugar levels on time to avoid the complications of diabetes
- Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can affect the toes of diabetic patient
- Wear comfortable shoes to avoid the effect of high blood sugar levels
- Diabetes if left untreated can also affect eyes of the patient
The reason they call diabetes a silent disease is because a patient might not die from diabetes itself. But diabetes increases your risk of heart disease significantly. Adults with Type 2 diabetes are up to four times more likely to die of heart disease than those without it. Diabetes is also identified as a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation. These are complications that arise from uncontrolled diabetes over the years. Doctors often find that patients get complacent about their condition after the initial shock of diagnosis subsides. This is because the disease doesn't dramatically alter the way a person lives their life initially. It does however quietly chip away at their health.
Diabetes: Know the complications of diabetes and ways to control them
Poorly controlled blood sugar levels will set the vascular disease in motion, that typically includes:
- Gum disease
- Cardiovascular disease like stroke, haemorrhage, heart attacks, atherosclerosis
- Nerve damage (Neuropathy)
- Kidney disease (Nephropathy)
- High Blood Pressure increases the chance of a stroke
- Foot complications
The longer you've had uncontrolled diabetes, the higher your risk for developing these complications becomes. Therefore, it is essential to master control over your blood sugar on a daily basis.
1. Nerve damage
Peripheral vascular neuropathy, the most common form of nerve damage, affects your extremities usually starting with the toes. It is the leading cause of lower-limb amputations throughout the world. The NHS reports that people who have diabetes are 15 times more likely to undergo amputations than others.
Foot ulcers affect one in ten diabetics during their lifetime, according to a study published in the Journal of Diabetes Research. This is a scary statistic, considering a small insidious cut on the toe could lead to a foot ulcer and accelerate into gangrene requiring amputation. If managed in time, most amputations can be avoided.
2. Toe the line
People with uncontrolled blood sugar levels can develop problems with their feet. High blood sugar damages blood vessels, which leads to poor circulation of blood to the feet. This can weaken the skin, impair wound healing, and cause ulcers. The damaged nerves in your feet decrease the pain sensation and pressure, which can lead to callused pressure spots as well increase the risk of accidentally injuring the bones and joints. Here, a person may injure their foot and not realize the extent of damage because of reduced sensation. Further, the presence of high levels of sugar in the bloodstream can increase the growth of bacteria and fungi, which can complicate ulcers and wounds. This means that a person is more likely to get an infection and one that will take longer to heal.
When blood glucose is high for a prolonged period of time, several things happen:
- A plaque builds up inside the blood vessel restricting normal blood flow to the affected body part resulting in Ischemia
- Wound healing is affected from impared collagen synthesis
Here is a guide on foot care for people with diabetes:
1. Check your feet daily for blisters, ingrown toenails, rashes, corn and calluses, pain, swelling and signs of infection
2. Take care of your feet and toenails by washing your feet in lukewarm water, never use hot water
3. Dry your feet gently, especially the spaces between your toes, with a soft towel
4. Trim your toenails and file the edges
5. Don't round the corners, as it can increase the risk for ingrown toenails
6. Wear comfortable, supportive shoes that fit well
7. Don't wear socks that are tight and change them every day
8. Never walk barefoot anywhere or expose your feet to too much heat, dampness or cold
9. Get a comprehensive foot exam once a year
10. If you notice any abnormalities, inform your doctor immediately
3. Take charge
Chronic diseases like diabetes need more than medications alone. Your doctor will urge you to increase healthy habits like diet and exercise, reduce unhealthy habits like smoking and consumption of alcohol. These are general guidelines but they are twice as beneficial for a person with diabetes. Diet and exercise will not only help patients reduce their cardiovascular disease but also help them have better control over their blood glucose levels. Keep your blood glucose under control and you automatically reduce the risk of diabetes complications. Patients can start with small changes like changing their cooking oil, choosing baked instead of fried foods, replacing desserts with fruit or even eating smaller, more frequent meals.
(Dr. Siddhesh Kolwankar is a M.D. Physician and Head of clinical team at Wellthy Therapeutics)
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