Diabetes mellitus, one of the most common endocrine problems prevalent in our country today, is not simply a hormonal anomaly. Today it is considered to be a lifestyle disorder that impacts almost all systems of a body and severely affects the quality of life when uncontrolled. That being said, a well-managed case of diabetes mellitus can ensure that one lives a symptom-free and satisfactory life.
Uncontrolled glucose levels persistently can lead to complications commonly seen with diabetes mellitus. High glucose levels in the blood affect nearly all systems and cause multisystemic problems for the individual. Let us have a look at the complications commonly seen in patients with chronic diabetes mellitus.
Complications of uncontrolled Diabetes Mellitus
1. Heart disease
For a patient with diabetes mellitus, it is essential to get their blood pressure, cholesterol, and lipid levels monitored regularly. This is because heart disease is the most common complication of diabetes mellitus. Family history also plays a major role in developing heart-related problems. Regular exercise is key to preventing heart troubles with or without diabetes.
2. Kidney problems
Kidney disease due to diabetes (known as diabetic nephropathy) can cause fluid retention and swell in the lower limbs. Gradually kidney failure sets in if the disease progresses unchecked. Regular monitoring of blood pressure and serum creatinine levels can help detect kidney disease at the earliest.
3. Nerves and neuropathy
Nerve damage is frequently caused by diabetes and manifests symptoms such as numbness, tingling, burning, or even pain. Numbness may cause one to be unaware of small wounds and injuries that may take a long time to heal because of the high glucose blood levels. The risk of secondary infections in these wounds is quite high and these may turn out to be significant problems later.
4. Stroke/ cardiovascular accidents
A sudden increase in blood pressure can lead to stroke. It requires immediate medical aid. The symptoms of a stroke are sudden weakness in one side of the face or body, numbness, dizziness, loss of function in one side of the body, etc.
5. Erectile dysfunction
For men, the chances of developing erectile dysfunction are high in cases of uncontrolled diabetes mellitus complicated by unhealthy habits such as smoking, lack of physical activity, etc. Generally, lifestyle modification is enough to reverse this problem.
The time taken to empty the stomach contents into the intestine is adversely affected in some cases of diabetes. This is because the nerves to the stomach may be damaged by high blood glucose levels.
7. Diabetic retinopathy
This is a common and serious complication of diabetes. The damage occurs to the blood vessels in the eye. A regular eye examination is essential for people with diabetes.
8. Skin problems
High glucose levels in the blood mean that injuries and wounds take longer to heal, and these become a breeding ground for bacteria. Infections are common for diabetic patients and take a long time to settle down. Recurrent boils, ulcers, and carbuncles are common in people with diabetes.
9. Dental problems
High blood glucose levels foster infections. Like any other injury, dental problems too heal much slower in people with high blood glucose. Any dental infection should be treated immediately.
Thus, we see that almost all of the body’s systems are adversely impacted by prolonged and unchecked high glucose levels. Many of these complications also show a hereditary propensity, as for example that of heart disease. However, if you do get diagnosed with diabetes, such complications can be avoided by paying attention to your blood glucose levels regularly and maintaining a healthy routine. Following are some of the ways to avoid complications of diabetes:
- Maintain your blood glucose levels. Regularly monitor your blood glucose, and visit your doctor to adjust your medication accordingly. Do not miss any scheduled visits to your doctor, and do not hesitate to reach out if you feel unwell.
- Maintain a nutritious diet. Diet is one of the most important factors that affect a diabetic’s health. A diet low in sugars, and rich in carbohydrates, omega-3-fatty acids, unsaturated fats, and adequate vitamins and minerals are essential for diabetics. Processed and fried foods and saturated fats must be avoided. Talk to your doctor about your dietary requirements, or you may also visit a nutritionist.
- Monitor your blood pressure, lipids, and weight: Regularly check your blood pressure and maintain healthy body weight. Obesity is associated with many of the complications of diabetes mellitus.
- Regular physical exercise is essential not just for diabetics but for everyone. A sedentary life complicates existing diabetes. Regular walking, jogging, yoga, aerobics, or any physical activity of your choice must be undertaken without fail. Not only does physical exercise help to control the blood glucose levels, but it also improves many of the symptoms of the disease.
- Herbal medicine for diabetes: Aside from the conventional medicines that one may take for managing their diabetes mellitus, herbal medicines for maintaining blood glucose levels are an excellent option. These medicines help to keep the glucose levels in check, improve the symptoms of diabetes significantly, and have no side effects.
In India, the use of herbal medicines and supplements is enmeshed in our culture. Since ancient times we have resorted to herbal solutions for our everyday problems. Over the years, studies have proven the efficacy of many of these herbal solutions and they have gained popularity over the world as well. Some of the herbs that have a direct effect on the blood glucose levels are:
- Bitter melon (karela)
- Gymnema sylvestre
- Syzygium jambolanum (jamun)
Most of these have the property to lower blood glucose levels. They may also help control blood pressure. These herbs are either taken raw or as ingredients in food. They may also be taken in the form of powders and capsules.
A variety of herbal supplements are available in the market that makes use of these herbs singly or in combination, along with many others, to achieve the best glucose-lowering effect. Some herbs are also known to enhance the insulin sensitivity of the body tissues so that the symptoms of diabetes mellitus are better managed. These supplements can be taken regularly without fear of any side effects or dependence. It is important to check the authenticity of the product you use and make sure it is free from contamination. Look for any contra-indications that may be listed on the product. You may talk to your doctor about the best herbal supplement for you.
Being diagnosed with diabetes is not the end of the world. With care, attention, and timely action, the condition can be managed well enough to live a healthy, fulfilling, and productive life.