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Complications of diabetes

HEALTH DIALOGUE
DIABETES is a disease of the human body in which the body is unable to use the glucose from food correctly either because cells in the pancreas do not produce insulin or the cells of the body do not respond correctly to insulin produced in the body.
When the cells in the body are unable to use the glucose, it remains in the blood stream for longer than expected and is eventually passed out through urine, stool and some extreme cases through sweat.
The build-up of glucose in the blood leads to damage of certain organs and this also allows bacteria to grow easily on any part of the body as they have easy access to glucose.
The high levels of glucose in the heart affect mainly the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, teeth, nerves and muscles of the body, the high levels of glucose also cause complications in pregnancy in women with type 1, type 2 or gestational diabetes.
The complications of diabetes do not appear immediately, it may take up to 15 years of poorly managed sugar levels, before the first signs of damage to the body may be seen.
The eyes are negatively affected by high levels of sugar, the sugar slowly destroys the blood vessels in the eye, and this usually leads to the destruction of the retina, which is the structure in the eye that allows us to see.
The damage to the retina leads to blurred vision, changes in colour vision, dark or empty areas in vision and blindness. The blood vessels are damaged by long term exposure to excess glucose, veins, arteries and capillaries start to decay and blood flow starts to reduce depriving other parts of the body of blood, like the heart causing angina (chest pains) and possible heart attacks.
The high glucose levels may lead to tooth decay and gum disease. If the gum disease is not taken care of, it may lead to serious infection of the bones in the face.
The unprocessed glucose in the blood is passed on to the kidneys that help to eliminate the excess glucose. The glucose, over time, damages the kidneys and the kidney disease usually leads to hypertension (high blood pressure) and can worsen heart conditions.
The human body has nerves running through all parts of the body, the extreme ends of the nerve fibres are found on finger tips and toes, people with uncontrolled glucose levels end up having nerve end damage and begin with symptoms of tingling sensation and pain of extremities before they lose sensation in the fingers and/or toes.
The loss of sensation in the extremities leads to damage through injury, which the diabetic person usually does not feel and can lead to serious bacterial infection, if not attended to may lead to amputation of limbs and in extreme cases may cause death through bacterial infection of the blood.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes or suspect you may have diabetes, it is important to take care of your body, eat a healthy diet of plenty of fruits and vegetables and if on medication, take it regularly to avoid developing complications of diabetes.
For more information on complications of diabetes, email:
990health@champ.org.zm

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