Preventing Diabetis Complications

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Reduce your risks by understanding your condition and the problems that can arise.

Although diabetes is a serious disease, it can generally be managed through a combination of diet, exercise, self-care techniques, and sometimes medication. In fact, with proper care, many patients lead long and fulfilling lives. When diabetics stray from their treatment guidelines, however, a variety of problems can result.

The disease can put you at risk for any or several of the following complications. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with diabetes, familiarize yourself with these potential problems, and talk to your health-care provider about ways to prevent them.

Heart Disease: Since diabetes comes with an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, and circulatory problems, diabetics should be especially careful about controlling their cholesterol levels, maintaining healthy blood pressure, knowing the warning signs of a heart attack, and getting tested for heart and blood vessel disease.
Kidney Disease (Nephropathy)/Kidney Transplantation: Diabetes can cause kidney damage and, if the kidneys lose the ability to filter out waste products, a condition known as nephropathy. To prevent kidney problems, the National Institutes of Health urges patients to talk to their doctors about their target blood glucose and blood pressure levels and to monitor those levels closely.
Eye Complications: Diabetes can result in eye problems, which could eventually lead to blindness. Since people with diabetes have a higher risk of blindness than people without diabetes, early detection and treatment of eye problems can be sight-saving.
Diabetic Neuropathy and Nerve Damage: Neuropathy is one of the most common complications of diabetes, and it means the nerves that run throughout the body connecting the spinal cord to muscles, skin, blood vessels, and other organs have become damaged. Diabetics with neuropathy may have no symptoms; others may feel pain, tingling, or numbness.
Depression: A sadness that lingers or feelings of constant hopelessness that last throughout the day for two weeks or more can be signs of serious depression. If you suspect that you are or a loved one is suffering from depression, contact your health-care provider as soon as possible so you can get an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Preventing Foot Problems
In addition, diabetes can result in a number of foot and skin problems. Foot complications typically occur when there's nerve damage or poor blood flow in the feet. To avoid these issues, adhere to the following guidelines:

Check your feet every day. Look for red spots, cuts, swelling, and blisters.
Be active. Talk to your health-care provider about a physical activity program.
Wash your feet every day. Remember to dry them carefully, especially between the toes.
Keep your skin soft and smooth by rubbing a thin layer of lotion over the tops and bottoms of your feet. Avoid the area between your toes.
Wear shoes and socks all the time. Don't walk barefoot, and make sure your shoes fit well and are comfortable.
Keep the blood flowing to your feet. When you're sitting, put your feet up, and wiggle your toes. Don't cross your legs for long periods of time.

Stopping Skin Complications
Up to one-third of diabetics will have a skin disorder caused or affected by diabetes at some point in their lives. Sometimes, these problems are the first symptoms diabetics experience. Fortunately, if they're detected early, most skin conditions can be prevented or easily treated. The ADA also offers the following tips:

Keep skin clean and dry.
Avoid exceedingly hot baths and showers. If you have dry skin, don't use bubble baths.
Treat cuts as soon as you notice them. Wash minor cuts with soap and water. Avoid using alcohol and iodine to clean skin because they're too harsh.
During cold, dry months, keep your house humid. If you can, bathe less often when the weather is dry.
See a dermatologist about any skin problems you can't take care of on your own.


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