There is currently no cure for diabetes. Some type 2 diabetics can manage their blood sugar with diet and exercise alone, while others may need diabetes' medication or insulin therapy. The type of medication prescribed depends on multiple factors, such as the blood sugar level and the presence of other health problems. A combination of different drugs may be needed to help you keep your blood sugar level under control.
Take extra care if you have diabetes
Potential severe complications
You may feel fine during the early stages of diabetes, but if left untreated, the condition may deteriorate and lead to potentially severe complications. These include:
- Heart and blood vessel disease:
- Nerve damage (neuropathy):
- Excess sugar can damage the walls of the tiny blood vessels that nourish your nerves, especially in the legs. This can cause tingling, numbness or pain that usually begins at the tips of the toes or fingers, gradually spreading upward. Poorly controlled blood sugar can eventually cause you to lose all sense of feeling in the affected limbs.
- Kidney damage (nephropathy):
- The kidneys contain millions of tiny blood vessel clusters that filter waste from your blood. Diabetes can damage this delicate filtering system. Severe damage can lead to kidney disease or irreversible end-stage kidney disease, requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant.
- Eye damage:
- Diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the retina (diabetic retinopathy), which can lead to blindness. Diabetes also increases the risk of other serious vision conditions, such as cataracts and glaucoma.
- Foot damage:
- Nerve damage in the feet or poor blood flow to the feet increases the risk of various foot complications. Left untreated, cuts and blisters can become serious infections, which, in severe cases, can lead to the need for amputation.
- Skin and mouth conditions:
- Diabetes may leave you more susceptible to skin problems, including bacterial and fungal infections. Gum infections also may be a concern, especially if you have a history of poor dental hygiene.
- Diabetes may lead to bone mineral density that is lower than normal, increasing your risk of osteoporosis.
Forge ahead with diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic disease that stays with you for the rest of your life. You may sway between feeling a sense of panic and denial upon diagnosis, and relief at finally knowing the reason for feeling unwell all this time. The key is not to let the diagnosis of your condition paralyse you. Forge ahead. The sooner you start taking steps to keep it under control, the sooner you’ll start to feel better.
Here are some ways you can cope with living with diabetes:
- Think positive
- It may be that you’ve had the condition for some time, but now that you know, you can take steps towards keeping it under control.
- Talk to someone
- Share your feelings with someone close to you or join a support group. Meeting others with the disease can help you put your feelings in perspective and make you feel less alone.
- Take it one step at a time
- There are many things you’ll have to learn about how to take care of your diabetic condition. Get regular checkups, and write down questions you may want to ask your doctor on your next visit. With time and practice, caring for your diabetes will come naturally to you.
Article contributed by the Department of Endocrinology at:
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