Diabetes mellitus, usually referred to as diabetes, is a disease that affects many Americans. The disease causes high blood sugar levels over an extended time and can affect anyone. There are three types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational. In Type 1, the pancreas fails to make enough insulin, which is a hormone that allows your body to metabolize carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Type 1 diabetes is also called juvenile diabetes with an unknown cause. Type 2 diabetes is insulin resistance, meaning cells do not respond to insulin properly. As it progresses, a lack of insulin can develop. The primary cause of Type 2 is genetics and lifestyle choices. The last type of diabetes, gestational, happens when pregnant women without a history of diabetes develop high blood-sugar levels.
Unfortunately, there are many complications that are caused by diabetes. Some of those complications include neuropathy or nerve damage, foot problems, especially tingling, pain or weakness in the foot, high blood pressure, hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state or severe dehydration, and gastroparesis or delayed gastric emptying. In addition, there are also some diseases caused by diabetes, especially uncontrolled diabetes.
With the eyes, diabetes can cause glaucoma, cataracts, and retinopathy. Glaucoma happens when pressure builds up in the eye, causing the draining of the liquid in the eye to slow down. This pressure pinches the blood vessels and gradually affects the eyes. Cataracts can happen to anyone, but for people suffering from diabetes, the chances increase significantly. Retinopathy, according to Blue Sky, high blood sugar levels slowly change the blood circulatory system of the retina. There are two types of retinopathy: nonproliferative and proliferative. In nonproliferative retinopathy, the capillaries in the eye swell and form pouches. With proliferative retinopathy, the vessels are damaged to the point of closing off. New blood vessels start growing but are weak and can leak blood which then causes vision problems or worse cause retinal detachment.
The condition can also cause kidney disease or nephropathy or renal disease is damage to the kidney which can cause renal failure. According to the Mayo Clinic, kidney disease damages the blood vessels in the kidney that filters waste from the blood. Severe kidney disease can also lead to “irreversible end-stage kidney disease” which may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Diabetes mellitus can also cause heart disease or stroke. People with diabetes are affected by heart disease or stroke “twice as often,” according to the American Diabetes Association. Coronary artery disease, heart attacks, and atherosclerosis, or narrowing of the arteries, can also be caused by diabetes. Also, because of diabetes, bad blood circulation, and neuropathy in the legs can also occur.
Diabetic ketoacidosis can lead to diabetic coma or death. Symptoms include vomiting, abdominal pain, gasping for breath, increased urination, weakness, confusion, and loss of consciousness. Ketoacidosis can happen to anyone with diabetes but is rare for those who have type 2, according to the American Diabetes Association. Some symptoms include thirst, frequent urination, high blood sugar levels, elevated levels of ketones in the urine, constant tiredness, nausea, and a fruity odor on the breath.
To prevent any of these serious diseases and complications caused by diabetes mellitus, it is important to see your physician on a consistent basis and to take your medications as prescribed. Maintaining a healthy weight is also important and seeking immediate medical help if you think you have any of these diseases.
By Cheryl Werber