Diabetes in a Nutshell
Having high blood sugar levels over time can damage the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and blood vessels causing severe complications. Research shows that if your blood sugar is controlled, you have a greater chance of postponing and/or preventing these complications.
Microscopic hemorrhages can occur in the small blood vessels in the back of the eye when the blood sugar has not been well-managed over time. There are no symptoms or loss of vision until there is significant damage already present. Yearly diabetic eye exams are necessary to detect early damage or changes to the eye. Damage to the back of the eye can be prevented with good blood sugar management.
The kidney contains a very fine filtering system. High blood sugar and high blood pressure damages the tiny filters making them stiff and large. Protein begins to leak through the enlarged filters. Small amounts of protein indicating early kidney damage can be detected with a yearly urine test called a microalbuminuria test. This is different from a routine urine test. Kidney damage can be prevented with good blood sugar management. Treatment of early kidney damage is usually with medications and improving the blood sugar.
High blood sugar causes the coating of the nerve fibers to become stiff and thick. This causes burning, tingling, and loss of feeling that usually starts in the toes or fingers and gradually moves up the feet or hands. Other parts of the body can be affected as well, such as the intestines and heart. Sexual dysfunction is quite common in diabetics, which is caused by the type of nerve damage to the sexual organs in both men and women. There are medications available for treating the nerve damage. Lowering blood sugar may decrease problems.
Heart disease and stroke
High blood sugar damages the lining of the blood vessels throughout all of the body. Cholesterol plaque quickly attaches to the damaged areas. People with type 2 diabetes are two to four times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than people who do not have diabetes. Managing the blood sugar is helpful but not enough. It is very important to eat a low fat diet. The fat in the diet should consist mostly of healthy fats.