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How Diabetes Can Ruin One's Health

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Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease. Its full name is diabetes mellitus. It is characterised by hyperglycemia (high level of glucose in the blood plasma) which results from malfunctioning of the body's insulin secretion or insulin action (or a combination of both). The result of such insulin function defect is the constrained metabolism of carbohydrate, protein or lipid.

Role of Insulin
Insulin disorder is at the root of diabetes. Insulin is the body hormone that regulates blood glucose. Insulin is produced in the pancreas which secretes it to meet the body's needs. When it functions normally, the body cells are able to receive the glucose they require for the energy to work. When that production or secretion fails or is impaired, the body will cells are starved of blood glucose which merely builds up in and overloads the blood stream. In various ways, that will begin to cause harm to the blood vessels and other organs of the body.

Types of Diabetes
Two types of diabetes have been clearly identified to occur. These have been tagged Type ! and Type 2 diabetes. In Type 1 diabetes, the body's pancreatic beta-cells which produce the insulin hormone get destroyed, largely and may produce little or no insulin. With little or no insulin production, that vital role of insulin in the body metabolic process easily fails, posing a problem to health. Type 2 diabetes, which is more widespread, is characterised by either impairment of insulin secretion or the body's resistance to the insulin resulting in non-utilisation.

Whatever is the cause or classification of diabetes, the bottom line effect is that the body is unable to utilise the blood glucose available to it and this results in excessive blood glucose levels in the blood stream. Some of the immediate symptoms will include:

  • frequent urination as the body battles to deal with getting rid of the excess blood glucose
  • frequent thirst, as fluid is lost in getting blood sugar out through urination
  • weight loss
  • weakness and fatigue
  • Increased hunger for food - the cells are starved of needed glucose

Complication of Diabetes
Diabetes affects a large population of people across the world. In the Nigerian environment, the numbers keep growing too, with serious consequences for the health of the populace. The body is unable to cope with the excess blood glucose in diabetes, when left uncontrolled. Sustained excess blood glucose levels (blood glucose beyond the normal range of between 70 to 120 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter) will gradually wear out the body system and that's the key danger. When the blood glucose level is uncontrolled, the risk of major health problems, categorised as complications of diabetes, will be high. It is those long-term complications of diabetes that every sufferer has to work hard to avoid, by taking immediate measures to minimise the risk of their eventual occurrence. What are these complications? Here is a quick run-down:

  • Eye Damage: Diabetes is a major cause of various eye problems and can ultimately lead to complete blindness. Cataracts, which can blur a person's vision, are believed to be a strong risk with sustained high blood sugar levels. The eye's retina can also be damaged, again affecting vision. Called diabetic retinopathy, this retina damage results principally from damage to the tiny blood vessels of the eye as a result of the excessive load of glucose in the blood stream. Glaucoma is also a potential risk, as a result of the pressure that builds up in the eye. Total loss of sight is a possibility when that situation persists.
  • Kidney Damage: Excess blood glucose will also cause damage to the blood vessels of the kidneys. Diabetic nephropathy is kidney damage resulting from prolonged high level of blood glucose which affects the kidney's tiny blood vessels. depending on the extent of damage, kidney failure may results. Kidney problems are difficult to manage, expensive to treat (frequent dialysis and kidney transplant are all expensive and cumbersome) and could indeed easily be life-threatening. The wisdom is to take all humanly possible steps to avoid the degeneration of such important organs by controlling the blood sugar level..
  • Cardiovascular Diseases: Diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels will be a high risk if blood glucose levels remain persistently high. Heart attack will be a risk, just as stroke can also result. With the increased blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels that could results, the risk of blockage of blood vessels is increased, which could be a danger for stroke. More complications will arise if high blood pressure is present. Minimising the risk of cardiovascular diseases will therefore be a major objective of diabetes control.
  • Damage to the Nerve System: Damage to the nerve system, which could result in pain and numbness in the extremities (usually in the legs and feet), is another complication potential of diabetes. Peripheral neuropathy will affect the sense of sensation and flexibility of motion one had before the illness. This could be a serious problem in many ways, including the diminished ability to feel pain from cuts, which can fester and be more problematic.
  • Ulcers and amputation of Limbs:Poor blood flow to the feet and nerve damage can lead to problems with the feet. Ulcers that are difficult to heal are also a risk, in some cases resulting in amputation of lower limbs.
  • Impotence and Loss of Libido: That's another possible long-term complication of diabetes. The damage to nerves can understandably impair the functioning of the organs and weaken the system.

Simply put, a major danger of diabetes is the complications that can result, over time, when there is diabetes. Most of those complications are difficult health problems that are not only difficult and expensive to manage but could really threaten life. Many of those problems basically arise from the excessive blood glucose level, if that remains uncontrolled for long. That is why controlling the level of blood is a critical part of diabetes management. The goal should be to minimise the risk of these long-term complications by doing everything that can help to keep the blood glucose within an acceptable range. Your doctor will help you establish control guidelines to work with. He will also determine the nature of treatment that is appropriate. It's important to stress, though, that a lot of lifestyle change response will be critical to your performance in dealing with the blood glucose and other diabetes challenges. Personal blood sugar testing is also likely to become an important part of your routine, as there will be need to keep a tab on your blood sugar level. You may read more, in another article here, on why frequent self-testing will be critical to your successful control of your blood glucose level.

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