Effects Of Uncontrolled Diabetes Effects of uncontrolled diabetes: The consequences of not controlling the blood glucose levels can be severe, depending on how long this glucose imbalance is allowed to continue. Damage as a result of diabetes can be broadly defined in three categories; irritation, shorter term complications, and long term complications.
High blood glucose levels can result in mild and reversible irritations. Although not immediately life threatening, these can still be unpleasant. Some examples of these irritations are:
– Constant tiredness or fatigue
– Blurry vision
– Itching of the genitals – this is more pronounced in women
– Infections of the urinary tracts
– Obesity in sufferers
– Skin that heals very slowly
– Urinating frequently and constantly thirsty
Shorter term complications
These are more severe than mild irritations, and can be extremely serious, resulting in death if the remain untreated. Such complications are usually associated with very high blood glucose levels, generally above 400 mg/dl. The main examples are
– Ketoacidosis; Usually found in type-1 diabetes sufferers, the lack of insulin means that the body begins using fat for energy as the blood glucose level rises. In turn the blood becomes very acidic, leading to nausea and lack of appetite. In turn, the excessive loss of fluids dehydrates the body, while the constant urinating starves it of important nutrients such as potassium. Unless the patient is treated with a large amount of insulin and other fluids, death can result.
– Hyperosmola syndrome; Sadly, this commonly afflicts older diabetes patients. Their blood glucose levels can rise due to severe dehydration, making the blood thick, and requiring a large amount of fluids to repair. Unfortunately, not only can their kidneys not get rid of the glucose as quickly as young patients, but existing heart conditions can make it difficult for them to handle a sudden and large infusion of fluids. Excess fluid can end up in the lungs, and cause other complications. Having said that, the condition can be reversed.
– Hypoglycaemia; This is sometimes known as low blood sugar, and can be a result of over treatment. Patients on insulin drive their glucose levels down, but need to get enough food to maintain their sugar levels. Symptoms of hypoglycaemia will include hunger, nervousness, increased heartbeats and sweating. Patients can also fall into a coma if this remains untreated. The treatment is feeding the patient glucose, or injecting it if they are unconscious.
Longer term complications
While irritations and short term complications can be treated, allowing a normal resumption of life, long term complications can substantially alter the quality of life of the patient. These complications are normally the result of a sustained period (years) of poorly controlled diabetes, or after years of pre-diabetes.
– Micro vascular complications are a result of damage to the small blood vessels. The result can be eye damage leading to blindness, kidney damage leading to kidney failure, and nerve damage which can lead to amputation of limbs.
– Macro vascular or arteriosclerotic complications result when the large blood vessels are damaged, and can also occur in pre-diabetic patients. Effects of this can be blocking of the heart’s blood vessels, leading to a heart attack. Also possible is the blocking of the brain’s blood vessels, leading to a stroke, or clogging of the legs’ blood vessels, resulting in amputation.
Despite the severity of some of the ailments listed above, controlling blood glucose and cholesterol levels with the right diet, exercise and medication, means that they need never occur in most diabetes patients.