What are Chronic Complications in Diabetes?
Chronic complications associated with Diabetes, are medical problems that occur when Diabetes isn’t treated properly for a long time and are caused because high blood sugar levels gradually deteriorate small blood vessels and nerves, causing damage that can be irreversible if not controlled and treated on time. Chronic complications in Diabetes occur due to the following reasons:
- Damage to large arteries or vessels.
- Damage to the small blood vessels.
- Nerve damage.
Damage to the large vessels or arteries, causes plaques to form on the inner walls of the arteries, making them stiff and hard; these plaques are known as atheroma plaques. The damaged areas, where the walls of the arteries are stiff and sticky, trap blood cholesterol and eventually these plaques increase in size and arteries clog. This is known as Atherosclerosis. Vascular problems begin when the connections of blood vessels become increasingly narrow, which is why the blood can’t properly transport nutrients and oxygen which all of the body’s organs require. In some people with Diabetes, the risk of vascular problems is greater. Vascular problems can result in strokes (cerebrovascular) or heart attacks (cardiovascular).
Given that arteries traverse the entire body, this damage can occur in the arteries that come to any organ or tissue, affecting the nutrients and oxygen supply they need, and can cause severe irreversible damage to the affected body area. Peripheral arterial disease is a condition where, as a result of atherosclerotic plaques, proper blood flow to the legs is affected, which can cause serious damage in the lower limbs and can even require amputation.
Small blood vessel damage can occur in the eyes (retinopathy) and kidneys (nephropathy), and even though no symptoms show up at first, if necessary timely measures aren’t taken, it can lead to blindness or kidney failure.
Nerve damage or neuropathy, affects many of the nerves that pass through the human body (motor, sensory and autonomous), and can cause, among other problems, erectile dysfunction, digestive problems and loss of sensation (pain, temperature). Neuropathies usually affect the lower extremities (legs and feet). When such damage to the sensory nerves become more severe, sensitivity is lost in that area, to the extent where the person can’t even feel a cut, and when it’s infected and not properly treated on time, this can lead to more severe problems, even amputation.
The lack of economic resources and motivation to control Diabetes treatment properly, poor eating habits, lack of information and appropriate diabetes education, can increase the number of people with Diabetes who develop chronic complications.
This is why it’s very important to exercise good Diabetes control at all times, follow doctor’s recommendations, check your blood sugar levels often, keep yourself well educated and informed on Diabetes and take all necessary precautions, in order to prevent the onset of chronic complications so you can enjoy a healthy, productive and happy life.