Diabetes Complications and Treatment

People can have risk factors for diabetes related to their health or other lifestyle choices. Diabetes can also run in families. However, once a health care provider has made a diabetes diagnosis, you should take steps to prioritize your health. You must monitor blood glucose levels and food intake to avoid potential diabetes complications. Kentucky residents can get additional help managing their diabetes at UK Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center.

Understanding diabetes

Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, the root of the problem is how your body produces insulin, which regulates glucose, the sugar in your blood that comes from your food and drink.

Your body goes to work after you eat to break food down into glucose. Once this sugar hits the bloodstream, your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin. Blood transports glucose throughout the body, and insulin helps the sugar enter the body’s cells. Once glucose enters the cells, the body uses it for energy. This energy enables you to exercise, focus and perform other tasks of daily living. As the sugar gets used, the body’s insulin production slows down.

With diabetes, this process is disrupted. Either the body makes little or no insulin, as with type 1 diabetes, or the body doesn’t make or use insulin well, which is called type 2 diabetes.

Additionally, pregnant women who don’t produce enough insulin may develop gestational diabetes. 

Every form of diabetes prevents glucose from entering the cells. Instead, glucose builds to dangerous levels within the blood. 

Though gestational diabetes rarely causes symptoms, the other types do. Common diabetes symptoms include:

  • Abnormal number of infections 
  • Excessive thirst, hunger or tiredness
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Slow-healing sores
  • Weight loss that occurs without trying
  • Urinating often, especially at night

Causes of diabetes complications

Over time, excessive blood sugar caused by diabetes damages blood vessels and nerves. Wherever this damage takes place, diabetes complications are likely to arise, though they take years to develop.

Complications depend on where the damage takes place. You may experience a higher risk of heart attack and stroke, gum disease or several other dangerous health conditions – and sometimes more than one.

Potential diabetes complications

Though you can often delay diabetes complications, you can’t always prevent them. The best way to slow their progression is to manage your diabetes well.

Should you experience complications, expert care is available at UK HealthCare through Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center. Here, our diabetes experts diagnose and treat a wide array of diabetes complications, including:

  • Diabetic ketoacidosis — When a lack of insulin prevents the body from using sugar for energy, the body burns fat instead. This produces fatty acids known as ketones. If ketones build up in the body and the condition is left untreated, coma or death can occur.
  • Diabetic nephropathy — Also known as diabetes-induced kidney disease or damage, diabetic nephropathy may cause high blood pressure and cholesterol. It may also cause kidney failure. Like certain other complications, proper blood sugar management can prevent diabetic nephropathy.
  • Diabetic neuropathy — When high blood sugar damages the nerves, you get diabetic neuropathy. This often leads to pain, tingling and eventually numbness, often in the feet. You may also experience erectile dysfunction, bladder infections and other conditions.
  • Diabetic retinopathy — This eye disease affects the retina, the thin, inner lining on the back of the eye. Over time, the condition normally worsens. It may cause redness or pain in the eyes, vision problems or even blindness. 
  • Gastroparesis — Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can damage the nerves attached to your stomach. When this happens, you get gastroparesis. You may experience stomach pain, heartburn and similar symptoms, or you may have trouble eating too much food at any given time.
  • Slow-healing or nonhealing wounds — To heal from injury, your body relies on blood flowing through healthy arteries. When high blood sugar hardens and narrows your arteries, it becomes difficult for oxygen-rich blood to reach your wounds. As a result, it may take extensive time to overcome even small cuts and scrapes.

Why choose UK Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center for diabetes complications?

By paying attention to your body and taking proper management steps, you can prevent many diabetes complications. You can accomplish this most effectively with an expert team on your side.

Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center is staffed by board-certified endocrinologists who treat adult or pediatric diabetes. Our physicians work with advanced practice providers trained in diabetes management. We also have numerous inpatient and outpatient diabetes care and education specialists.

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