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Diabetes symptoms and complications

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You have been diagnosed with diabetes and would like to limit the impact on your health? Having a good understanding of the symptoms and potential complications is an important part of managing your diabetes. It will help you enjoy life longer!

Les symptômes et les complications du diabète

Diabetes in brief

Diabetes is a complex disease that is generally divided into two categories, Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes usually begins in childhood, adolescence or young adulthood. It is caused by the destruction of the islets of Langerhans, the region of the pancreas that produces insulin. Insulin enables our body to use the energy contained in food, that is, glucose (sugar). In most cases of Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas continues to produce insulin, but inadequately. As well, the insulin is inefficient because the body is resistant to its action. Despite their differences, these two types of diabetes lead to the same result: an increase in blood glucose (the amount of glucose in the blood). High blood glucose is caused by an accumulation of glucose in the blood and is therefore abnormal.

Diabetes symptoms

Too much glucose in the blood sometimes leads to symptoms that can help doctors diagnose diabetes or know when diabetes is under poor control. These include:

  • excessive thirst
  • frequent hunger
  • frequent need to urinate
  • fatigue or sleepiness
  • blurred vision
  • tingling in fingers or feet
  • unexplained weight loss or gain
  • irritability or mood fluctuations
  • fruity breath
  • confusion or change in state of awareness
  • wounds that are slow to heal or fungus infection

Diabetes is a disease that must be treated as soon as possible. Therefore, if you feel one or more of these symptoms, consult your doctor.

Diabetes complications

A high level of glucose in the blood is detrimental over the long term. Several health problems may result from diabetes. Usually they develop several years after the onset of the disease. However, it is not uncommon for some problems to be present at the time of diagnosis. Diabetes is insidious. Early diagnosis and proper treatment of the disease are therefore crucial.

Kidney damage

This complication affects about 50% of patients who have had diabetes for more than 20 years. The kidneys are the organs that cleanse the body of its waste. A decrease in their effectiveness can cause an accumulation of this waste and lead to further complications. Ultimately, dialysis or a kidney transplant may be required.

Eye damage

A number of eye diseases are related to diabetes. They usually develop later, but can significantly affect the person’s quality of life. In fact, diabetes is the number one cause of vision loss. It is therefore important to visit your doctor and your optometrist regularly to detect these complications as early as possible.

Nerve damage

About 50% of people living with diabetes may be affected by this complication. A loss of sensitivity in the hands and feet, a feeling of electric shock or burning, as well as sexual problems may be symptoms of nerve damage from diabetes. Nerve damage can also make it difficult to carry out certain daily tasks and cause chronic pain, requiring medication in some cases.

Heart problems

It is not uncommon for people with diabetes to develop heart and blood vessel problems. In fact, myocardial infarction (heart attack) and stroke are possible consequences of diabetes. It is estimated that about 80% of people living with diabetes will die from a heart problem. Healthy lifestyle habits and good control of diabetes are excellent strategies for preventing heart problems, as is quitting smoking.

Circulation problems

A high level of glucose in the blood may compromise blood circulation; this is caused by premature deterioration of the blood vessels. This phenomenon can lead to various types of problems, including difficulty healing, erectile problems, and infections.

Delayed wound healing

Diabetes makes the body less effective at healing wounds. Infections caused by bacteria or fungus may also take longer to heal. It is therefore important for people with diabetes to examine their skin regularly, especially on their feet, so as to monitor the healing of any wounds and to consult a doctor at the right time.

In short, diabetes has a number of consequences that can significantly affect your quality of life and reduce life expectancy. Early diagnosis and taking control of your health will enable you to enjoy your life to the fullest and to live longer. There are a number of steps you can take to delay these complications for as long as possible, whether by adopting good lifestyle habits or taking the appropriate medication. Your pharmacist can help you take control of your diabetes. Ask for his or her assistance, because your health is what matters!

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