Diabetes and My Health
What are common consequences of diabetes?
Over time, diabetes can damage the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves.
Diabetes increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. In a multinational study, 50% of people with diabetes die of cardiovascular disease (primarily heart disease and stroke).
Combined with reduced blood flow, neuropathy (nerve damage) in the feet increases the chance of foot ulcers, infection and eventual need for limb amputation.
Diabetic retinopathy is an important cause of blindness, and occurs as a result of long-term accumulated damage to the small blood vessels in the retina. One percent of global blindness can be attributed to diabetes.
Diabetes is among the leading causes of kidney failure.
- The overall risk of dying among people with diabetes is at least double the risk of their peers without diabetes.
Having diabetes means making some changes in your everyday life. These changes may seem hard at first, but the goal is to keep your blood sugar (glucose) under control to keep you healthier longer and to help you feel better.
How can diabetes be prevented?
Simple lifestyle measures have been shown to be effective in preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes. To help prevent type 2 diabetes and its complications, people should:
- achieve and maintain healthy body weight;
- be physically active – at least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity activity on most days. More activity is required for weight control;
- eat a healthy diet of between 3 and 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day and reduce sugar and saturated fats intake;
- avoid tobacco use – smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Diagnosis and treatment
Early diagnosis can be accomplished through relatively inexpensive blood testing.
Treatment of diabetes involves lowering blood glucose and the levels of other known risk factors that damage blood vessels. Tobacco use cessation is also important to avoid complications.
Interventions that are both cost saving and feasible in developing countries include:
- moderate blood glucose control. People with type 1 diabetes require insulin; people with type 2 diabetes can be treated with oral medication, but may also require insulin;
- blood pressure control;
- foot care.
Other cost saving interventions include:
- screening and treatment for retinopathy (which causes blindness);
- blood lipid control (to regulate cholesterol levels);
- screening for early signs of diabetes-related kidney disease.
These measures should be supported by a healthy diet, regular physical activity, maintaining a normal body weight and avoiding tobacco use.
The best way to manage diabetes is to learn more about it. Checking your blood sugar, eating healthy and exercising each day can help manage your diabetes. Every diabetes management plan includes monitoring, meal planning, and physical activity. Sometimes, taking diabetes pills or insulin is also needed. Some management plans include oral medications or insulin. Your treatment plan is based on what your body needs and may change over time. Your treatment plan will change over time as your body changes. Remember that the best treatment plan is the one that keeps your blood sugar (glucose) levels in control.