Learning to recognize the complications of diabetes in yourself and others can save a life. Sometimes diabetes goes unnoticed, and until there's a complication, the person doesn't know he or she has diabetes. If a shrewd friend can see some symptoms before the complications hit, it may give the diabetic an edge on treatment. It's also a good idea to learn some of the signs and symptoms of complications and how to stave them off in yourself.
Here are some tips to help you prevent and recognize diabetes complications.
There are some specific actions you can take to help avoid complications and keep them from developing.
1. Don't smoke
Smoking is one of the worst things a diabetic can do. First of all, smoking constricts blood vessels, further complicating the compromised circulation that comes with diabetes anyway. Secondly, smoking increases diabetics' risk of cardiovascular disease and even vision problems. So a good step toward staving off these complications is to stop smoking (or don't start!).
2. Take your medication regularly
To help your body stay on an even keel, it's a good idea to take your prescribed medication as directed. Don't self-medicate. If you want to change medications or try something different, make sure you do so under the care of a professional.
3. Regular check-ups
Getting regular physicals is important, but so are check-ups specifically for your diabetes. Your vision in particular should be monitored to prevent vision complications such as glaucoma later on.
4. Maintain a healthy weight
Eating a healthy, diabetic-specific diet and getting enough regular exercise is key to maintaining a healthy weight. You don't want to crash-diet, but getting on track with the right foods and activity level is a good place to start.
Recognizing complications early can help, whether it's an urgent, short-term complication or a long-term one. Here are some tips.
Sources say that the body parts most affected by diabetes are:
- Heart and blood vessels
Watching for abnormalities in these areas of the body is the first step toward recognizing any complications in that area.
Burning, tingling sensations in the hands and feet, sharp night-time pain, and difficulty walking are signs of diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage). Swollen, red feet are also a sign of serious nerve complications.
2. Vision problems
If you have blurry vision, sudden losses of vision, what seems like flashing light or grey, drifting films across your eyes, it could be a sign of diabetic vision complications. Pain and pressure in the eye are also symptoms.
3. Kidney complications
Diabetics are prone to kidney problems. Signs of kidney complications include fatigue, poor concentration, painful urination, and/or edema (puffy swelling) in the abdomen, around the eyes, or in the ankles and feet.
4. High and low blood sugar
Symptoms of very low blood sugar may include nausea, extreme fatigue, confusion, emotional imbalance, and ravenous hunger. High blood sugar may cause excessive thirst, headache, and increased, frequent urination. High and low blood sugar need to be addressed immediately.
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Yes, there’s a lot to learn about living well with diabetes. Getting in control might take some time. It’s going to mean making some changes in your life, but you can start with small changes, and you don’t have to make them all at once. And you don’t have to do it alone. If you have any questions, join us in the community and ask.
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