The high BGLs caused by both types can wreak havoc with your body over the long term. But the good news is that with modern equipment and therapies, diabetics have the tools to effectively control their BGLs and prevent or forestall complications. And even if complications occur, modern treatments can prevent blindness, amputation and other extreme consequences if caught early on.
A number of potential complications are caused by chronically high blood sugar. The feet are one example. Since they’re the furthest parts of the body from the heart, if circulation problems develop they’re likely to show up there first. The feet can get nerve damage, called neuropathy, that can cause pain, tingling or numbness that impairs the ability to feel heat, cold, and pain. This increases the possibility of having an injury that could go unnoticed. At the same time, the healing process may be weakened and that increases the chance of infection. An infection is bad enough for non-diabetics; in diabetics it’s a major league threat that can lead to amputation if it gets out of hand.
Because of this, foot problems must be addressed quickly. If you ask a podiatrist for a diabetic horror story, they’ll usually tell you about the person who came in with a gangrenous foot that required amputation. The furrow their brows, get really serious and quietly say, “Why didn’t they see me earlier?” Since foot problems like infections can be immediately threatening, podiatrists will see you on the day you call if they know you’re diabetic.
In the old days, blindness was a frequent untreatable complication of diabetes. The most common eye disease among diabetics is called diabetic retinopathy. A number of bad things happen as a result of the condition. One is the leakage of blood from weak blood vessels that can cloud the center of the eye and block vision.
Eye problems are sneaky because there aren’t obvious symptoms before the trouble starts. That’s why it’s important to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least annually. It can identify potential problems early so they can be addressed before vision is impaired.