Preparing for the Complications of Diabetes

Preparing for the Complications of Diabetes

Addressing the various changes and potential challenges that come with the diagnosis of diabetes can be overwhelming.  However, preparedness and regular education about diabetes management and self-care practices empowers individuals in effectively managing their condition and preventing or delaying the onset of complications.

With preparedness as the goal, let’s cover the complications of diabetes you should be aware of:

  1. Cardiovascular Disease: Diabetes significantly increases the risk of heart disease, including coronary artery disease, heart attack, and stroke.
  2. Nephropathy (Kidney Disease): Diabetes is a leading cause of kidney failure, characterized by damage to the small blood vessels in the kidneys, leading to impaired kidney function.
  3. Neuropathy (Nerve Damage): High blood sugar levels can cause nerve damage, resulting in neuropathy, which may manifest as numbness, tingling, pain, or loss of sensation in the extremities.
  4. Retinopathy (Eye Damage): Diabetes can lead to damage to the blood vessels in the retina, resulting in diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness in adults.
  5. Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD): Diabetes increases the risk of PAD, a condition characterized by narrowed arteries in the legs, leading to reduced blood flow and increased risk of complications such as infections and amputations.
  6. Foot Complications: Diabetes can cause poor circulation and nerve damage in the feet, increasing the risk of foot ulcers, infections, and, in severe cases, amputations.
  7. Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar): Insulin or medication used to treat diabetes can sometimes lower blood sugar levels too much, resulting in hypoglycemia, which can cause symptoms such as dizziness, confusion, sweating, and, if severe, loss of consciousness.
  8. Hyperglycemia (High Blood Sugar): Prolonged periods of high blood sugar levels can lead to a range of acute and chronic complications, including diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state (HHS), both of which are medical emergencies.

Management of diabetes through medication, lifestyle changes, regular monitoring, and preventive care can help reduce the risk of these complications and improve overall health outcomes.

Now that we have a list of what complications to look out for, let’s cover the signs of those conditions.  

  1. Cardiovascular Complications:
    • Chest pain or discomfort (angina)
    • Shortness of breath
    • Palpitations
    • Fatigue
    • Swelling in the legs or ankles
  2. Nephropathy:
    • Swelling of the ankles, feet, or hands
    • Increased need to urinate, especially at night
    • Fatigue
    • Loss of appetite
    • Persistent itching
  3. Neuropathy:
    • Numbness, tingling, or burning sensations in the hands or feet
    • Sharp, stabbing pain
    • Loss of sensation, particularly in the feet
    • Muscle weakness or difficulty walking
    • Digestive issues such as constipation, diarrhea, or gastroparesis (delayed stomach emptying)
  4. Retinopathy:
    • Blurred or distorted vision
    • Floaters (spots or dark strings) in the field of vision
    • Sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes
    • Difficulty seeing at night
    • Seeing flashes of light
  5. Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD):
    • Leg pain or cramping, particularly during physical activity (claudication)
    • Numbness or weakness in the legs
    • Coldness or discoloration of the legs or feet
    • Slow-healing wounds or ulcers on the feet or legs
    • Hair loss or slow growth of toenails
  6. Hypoglycemia:
    • Sweating
    • Trembling or shaking
    • Fast heartbeat
    • Dizziness or lightheadedness
    • Hunger
  7. Hyperglycemia:
    • Increased thirst
    • Frequent urination
    • Fatigue
    • Blurred vision
    • Slow-healing wounds or infections

It's important to note that some complications of diabetes can develop without obvious symptoms, especially in the early stages. Regular medical check-ups, monitoring of blood sugar levels, and screening tests as recommended by healthcare providers are essential for detecting and managing complications early to prevent further damage and improve outcomes.

Spot Diabetes Complications with a CGM

Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) can help individuals with diabetes avoid complications by providing real-time information about their blood sugar levels, allowing for better management and timely intervention. 

  1. Continuous Monitoring: CGM systems continuously measure glucose levels throughout the day and night, providing you with real-time data about your blood sugar trends. By staying informed about your glucose levels, you can take proactive steps to keep them within target range and avoid both hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, which are risk factors for complications.
  2. Trend Analysis: CGM devices not only show your current glucose level but also indicate whether your glucose is trending upwards, downwards, or staying stable. This trend analysis helps you anticipate and respond to impending highs or lows before they become severe, thereby reducing the risk of complications.
  3. Alerts and Alarms: Many CGM systems come with customizable alerts and alarms that notify you when your glucose levels are too high or too low. These alerts prompt you to take corrective action promptly, such as adjusting your insulin dose, eating a snack, or treating hypoglycemia with glucose tablets or gel, thus preventing complications associated with extreme glucose levels.
  4. Insight into Patterns: By reviewing CGM data regularly and identifying patterns in your glucose levels, you can gain valuable insights into how your body responds to food, exercise, stress, medications, and other factors. This understanding enables you to make informed lifestyle adjustments and medication changes to optimize glucose control and minimize the risk of long-term complications.
  5. Remote Monitoring and Sharing: Some CGM systems offer the option to share glucose data remotely with caregivers, family members, or healthcare providers. This feature allows your support network to monitor your glucose levels and provide assistance or intervention if necessary, even when you're not together, enhancing your overall diabetes management and reducing the risk of complications.

By leveraging the features of CGM technology and integrating glucose data into your daily diabetes management routine, you can take proactive steps to avoid complications and maintain better control of your condition.

Secure Your CGM Monitor With a Patch

This is where Plus Patches play a crucial role, by providing a secure and comfortable way to wear these devices, helping individuals achieve uninterrupted sleep and, consequently, better glucose regulation.

Try the CGM Patches

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