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What are Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 Complications
What are Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 Complications?
Diabetes Mellitus type 2 Complications can be categorized as either acute or chronic. The acute category includes serious and possibly life threatening complications. The chronic category includes those for which diabetes has been nicknamed the silent killer.
Acute Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 Complications
Since the acute complications represent a more serious problem, they get top billing. Acute means they are serious and could cause drastic consequences. People with well controlled blood sugar levels have little to worry about these complications. They arise from hyperglycemia or hypo glycemia, i.e. either you have too much or too little blood sugar.
Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)
Diabetic Ketoacidosis has a mortality rate of about 5%, which is mostly due to a lack, or late recognition. It can happen when someone has just become a type 1 diabetic, and the insulin levels fluctuate wildly. It can also happen to type 2 diabetics, and generally occurs in those that have to take insulin. Some early warning signs of Ketoacidosis.
- Frequent urination
- Thirst or a very dry mouth
- High blood glucose levels
- Nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain
Hyperosmolar hyperglycemic nonketotic syndrome (HHNS)
It is rare, but has a mortality of approximately 15%, mainly because of the advanced age of the patients. HHNS is when your blood glucose level goes way too high. It starts with a climbing blood sugar level. That triggers your body to get rid of excess sugars through urination. And with frequent urination your body becomes dehydrated and you become very thirsty. Some warning signs of HHNS:
- Cotton mouth and extreme thirst
- Increased and urgent urination
- Blood sugar level of over 600mg/dl
- Warm or hot, and dry skin without sweating
- Loss of mental acuity, sudden sleepiness, or confusion
- Blurred or loss of vision
Somewhat the reverse of Hyperglycemia, this condition is when your blood sugar goes too low. A frequent side effect of insulin producing medical diabetes treatment. It is totally unlikely for type 2 diabetics treated with only natural methods like a healthy diet and exercise to have a low blood sugar. Early warning signs include.
- Increased or rapid heartbeat
- Shaking, sweating, rapid heartbeat
- Skin turns white or grey
- Numbness in fingers, toes, and lips
- Sleepiness or confusion
- Slurred speech
- Changes to vision
- Becoming hungry
- Sudden moodiness
Chronic Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 Complications
Chronic Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 Complications are less immediate than acute complications. However, it is because of this type of complication that type 2 diabetes has earned the name “silent death”. Chronic or long-term complications usually develop over a long period. For many diabetics, some damage has already been done by the time one of these complications is known. All of these complications will have started with damage to tiny blood vessels.
Loss of Vision
People with diabetes have an elevated risk for retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is a most common cause of blindness in the Unites States in adults. Having diabetes also raises the risk of other serious vision conditions, such as cataracts and glaucoma and macular edema. Hyperglycemia is the most common cause of retinopathy, so if you value your vision highly like me control your blood sugar. It is very important for a diabetic to have your eyes examined once a year, and whenever if you notice a change. The bad news is once you have it, you can’t get rid of it, so prevention is highly emphasized. Some symptoms you will want to be aware of are loss or holes in your vision, sparkling white lights, and spots of haziness or fuzziness in your vision.
Nephropathy or Kidney Damage
Diabetic nephropathy takes many years to develop, but is the leading cause of kidney failure in the U.S. Early damage can be unnoticed for up to a decade, but is less likely to occur when blood sugar levels are controlled. High blood pressure contributes to the development of nephropathy. Also, non-white people with type 2 have a much higher risk in developing nephropathy than whites. A key to preventing it depends on identifying early signs, which can be detected with a urine test. From the test, you will need to find out how much protein has leaked into your urine.
Neuropathy or Nerve Damage
Our nervous system includes the peripheral nervous system and the central nervous system. Whenever we move we feel something, but much of our nervous system works automatically without our interference. Although there are a number of different classes of neuropathy, some are not very common or are rare. In confining the conversation to those of concern for a diabetic, we typically mean Peripheral Sensory Polyneuropathy or Autonomic Neuropathy. Autonomic neuropathy generally occurs in diabetics with longer running diabetes or other conditions. I can impact many organs and systems, and may cause erectile dysfunction, gastroparesis and others.
Peripheral Sensory Polyneuropathy is associated with the amputation of a foot. If you have this type of neuropathy you may lose sensory perception, in your hands and feet. It usually starts with numbness, itching, tingling, and stinging pain. The symptoms slowly progresses and people may not realize when they have a sore on their foot. That sore can get infected and eventually may then need to be amputated to stop the spread of the infection. This is one of the reasons your doctor examines and advises you to check your feet often.
Heart Disease, Stroke, and Blood Vessel Disease
When blood sugar levels are persistently too high, an excess of glucose attaches to the inner walls of the blood vessels. This causes a decrease in their elasticity, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease by 2 to 4 times. Other potential problems can come from diabetes and hardening of the vessels, and sub optimal treatment. These include coronary artery disease with chest pain (angina), heart attack, stroke, narrowing of arteries (atherosclerosis) and high blood pressure. The majority of type 2 diabetics are unaware of the significantly higher risk of heart disease. There are few, if any early symptoms that are outwardly visible, even during a heart attack. So this set of complications fits the silent death name very aptly. Don’t smoke, control your blood sugar, take a low dose aspirin, and watch your cholesterol and triglycerides.
Probably the most noticeable of the chronic complications is that of skin problems. Because your liver attempts to flush excess sugar by creating and using urine, you can become dehydrated quickly. In another article I describe why water is good for a diabetic, which also mentions dryness of the skin. For this reason, diabetes may leave you more susceptible to skin problems, including bacterial and fungal infections. Other skin conditions are also common for diabetics, like eczema or psoriasis.
Beware the Complications
So you are diabetic, and now you know much more about Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 Complications. The vast majority of actions you can take to avoid these complications is to control your blood sugar. Additional actions are to eat healthy, exercise regularly, and live a healthy lifestyle. Even then, complications may sneak up on you, so my ultimate recommendation is to learn about diabetes. If you fail to educate yourself on what can be done, you could easily miss some detail that could extend your life.
- The Mayo Clinic
- University of California, San Francisco
- Tufts University
- University of Alabama
- Pennington Biomedical Research Center