April 5, 2013
Diabetes: Just The Beginning
When you are first diagnosed with diabetes, your first concern is learning as much as you can about this disease so that you can control your blood sugar levels. And it is more important than most people realize. Diabetes by itself is bad enough, but if it is left untreated or allowed to get out of control, then you are just asking for a whole host of other, potentially more dangerous conditions.
The American Diabetes Association has a list of the most common conditions associated with diabetes. Some of the most well known ailments are: eye problems, foot problems, high blood pressure, heart disease and hearing loss. One of the reason losing weight and exercising is so important, is that you can actually get rid of conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes with proper eating habits and regular exercise. But even if you don’t get rid of them, taking care of yourself (especially when you have other health concerns) ensures that you will be around a lot longer.
The most common illness associated with diabetes is high blood pressure. We all know what it is, and we all know it can dangerous. But do you really know what it can do to your body? High blood pressure can cause heart attack, stroke, eye and kidney disease. The good news is that, just like diabetes, high blood pressure can be controlled with diet and exercise. In many cases, your doctor may choose to prescribe a medication which can help to regulate your blood pressure. Even if you take medication, it is still very important that you eat right and watch your weight.
“Obesity and diabetes are scientifically proven to be directly linked. In fact, obesity is a direct cause of Type II Diabetes.” I’ve talked about the importance of diet and exercise, but it becomes that much more critical when your diabetes causes other medical problems.
Another familiar illness associated with diabetes is heart disease. The ADA talks about the ABC’s of heart disease. A is to remind you to regularly get an A1C test, which gives you an average for your blood sugar over a three month period. You want that number to be 7.0 or less when you are diabetic. Mine came back at 6.1, which means they diagnosed me as prediabetic. That means I can still avoid getting diabetes by watching my diet and exercising. (Always with the diet and exercise, right?) Someone without diabetes will be in the 4-5 range on average. They use the letter B to talk about blood pressure. And finally, C stands for cholesterol, something that you will also need to keep an eye on. Your doctor will probably do what is called a lipid panel at the same time they do your A1C. This test will let you know if you need to watch your cholesterol.
Another issue that many diabetics have is foot problems. Nerve problems, or neuropathy, is when you begin to lose the ability to feel things. It might be cold, pain, maybe a rock or blister that you can’t feel and gets continually worse. That is why it is so important for diabetics to regularly check their feet for any cuts, bruises or anything else out of the ordinary. Catching problems early keeps them from getting to the point where you have to see the doctor, go to the hospital, or even have surgery. It’s not unheard of for diabetics who do not take care of themselves to have amputations. While this is a worst case scenario, it is something to keep in mind. This is what you DON’T want to happen.
The last problem I will cover is kidney disease. According to Livestrong.com, “Diabetes is a common cause of kidney failure, according to the Life Clinic. Diabetes increasingly damages the kidneys’ ability to filter blood. This eventually results in the kidneys’ inability to remove waste products from blood.” This is a very serious condition that every diabetic needs to be aware of. This can lead to dialysis, kidney transplants, and/or death.
As you can see, there are many illnesses that can go hand in hand with diabetes. The good news is if you can control your diabetes, whether with diet and exercise or with medication, then you can also control these diseases. While there are more conditions that diabetics may have to deal with, these are among the most well known. Keep your health and keep all these things at bay. We want to keep you around as long as possible.