Risk Factors & Complications Associated with Diabetes
A research study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in September 2015 demonstrated that nearly 50 percent of adults in the United States may have pre-diabetes or diabetes.
Approximately 9 out of 10 people may have undiagnosed pre-diabetes while 1 out of every 4 people may have undiagnosed diabetes. Statistics from the Center for Disease Control also revealed that about 30 percent of all individuals with pre-diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years.
While these statistics have become dangerously alarming in the United States, the increasing issue of pre-diabetes and diabetes cases in adults has been growing throughout the world. Over the last decade, for instance, Great Britain has seen a drastic rise in both pre-diabetes and diabetes cases as well. According to a BBC News report, approximately more than one-third of British adults have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, as compared to a 2003 report, where only 11.6 percent of British adults had been diagnosed with pre-diabetes. By 2011, the amount of individuals diagnosed with the conditions had almost tripled to about 35.3 percent.
Pre-diabetes is medically characterized as having a fasting blood sugar of 100-125 mg/dl or a hemoglobin A1C of 5.7-6.4 percent. Researchers medically defined diabetes as having a fasting blood sugar greater than 126 mg/dl or a hemoglobin A1C > 6.5 percent, a measure of long term glucose control.
Health Complications Related to Diabetes
A majority of the complications associated with pre-diabetes and diabetes can develop gradually over time. Individual’s who’ve had the condition for an extended period of time, and who also maintain less control of their blood sugar levels, may have a higher risk of suffering other complications commonly associated with type 2 diabetes. If these issues are not treated accordingly, they could eventually lead to disabling or even life-threatening complications.
Common complications associated with pre-diabetes and diabetes include:
- Skin and tissue infections: Damage to blood vessels and nerves can affect the proper circulation and blood flow to the skin. This can result in the death of skin cells which may lead to a variety of changes in the skin as well as in other important structures of the body.
- Foot damage: The Improper blood flow and circulation as well as damage to the nerves in the feet can increase the risk of experiencing a variety of foot issues. If left untreated, these foot complications, such as cuts and blisters, can develop into serious infections which can often heal poorly. Severe infections may ultimately require toe, foot or leg amputations.
- Eye damage or retinopathy: Diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the retina which can potentially lead to blindness. This complication of the condition also increases the risk of other serious vision conditions, such as the development of cataracts and glaucoma.
- Kidney damage or nephropathy: The kidneys are made up of millions of tiny blood vessel clusters, known as glomeruli, which function by filtering waste from the blood. Type 2 diabetes can damage these blood vessel clusters, affecting their normal function to properly filter the blood. Severe damage to the glomeruli can lead to kidney disease or kidney failure which may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.
- Peripheral neuropathy or nerve damage: Increased blood sugar levels can injure the walls of the capillaries, tiny blood vessels which nourish the nerves, particularly those found in the legs. Peripheral neuropathy can cause pain, tingling and burning sensations and numbness along the upper and lower extremities. If this type of nerve damage is left untreated, the symptoms mentioned above may worsen, resulting in loss of strength and balance as well as the complete loss of feeling in the affected limbs. A majority of people with advanced stages of peripheral neuropathy experience chronic symptoms of pain and they may be unable to walk without the help of a cane or walker. Some people may need to use a wheelchair. Nerve damage can also affect the nerves of the digestive system, causing nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. For men, peripheral neuropathy may lead to erectile dysfunction.
- Cardiovascular disease: Pre-diabetes and diabetes also dramatically increases the risk of developing a variety of cardiovascular problems, including coronary artery disease with chest pain or angina, heart attack, stroke and narrowing of arteries, or atherosclerosis. Individuals with diabetes are more likely to experience heart disease or stroke.
- Hearing impairment: Individuals with diabetes have double the risk of experiencing hearing loss and other auditory complications than adults without the condition.
- Alzheimer’s disease: According to various research studies, type 2 diabetes has been linked to the development of Vascular Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Risk Factors Leading to Diabetes
Pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes can develop due to a variety of risk factors. Knowing these factors can help individuals be more aware of their chances of developing the condition in order to help them take the necessary precautions to prevent diabetes from developing.
Several risk factors contributing to pre-diabetes and diabetes include:
- Weight: Excess weight and obesity can cause the development of insulin resistance, one of the most common reasons behind pre-diabetes and diabetes in adults.
- Inactivity: Sedentary individuals who engage in less exercise and physical activity can be at greater risk of developing the condition. Physical activity and exercise helps control weight, utilizes glucose as energy and improves insulin sensitivity.
- Family history: A person’s risk of developing pre-diabetes or diabetes can increase if a parent or sibling has the condition. Although Type 2 Diabetes is not hereditary, it can develop due to lifestyle habits. Your family history can help predict the probability of developing diabetes.
- Race: Research published in JAMA revealed that African-Americans, Hispanics, American Indians and Asian-Americans are at higher risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes.
- Age: The risk of developing pre-diabetes and diabetes does increase with age. This is generally believed to be due to inactivity associated with aging, loss of muscle mass and weight gain. However, pre-diabetes and diabetes has also dramatically increased among children, adolescents and younger adults over the past several years.
- Gestational diabetes: A woman who developed gestational diabetes while pregnant, may have an increased risk of developing pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. If you gave birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds, 4 kilograms, you may also be at risk of developing diabetes.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS: For women, having polycystic ovary syndrome, a common condition characterized by irregular menstrual periods, excess hair growth and obesity, can also increase the risk of developing diabetes.
- High blood pressure: Having blood pressure of over 140/90 mm Hg, or millimeters of mercury, has been associated to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
- High cholesterol and triglyceride levels: Individuals with low levels of high-density lipoprotein, HDL or good cholesterol, their risk of developing pre-diabetes or diabetes is generally higher. Triglycerides are another type of fat carried in the blood. People with high levels of triglycerides can be at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Consulting a doctor at this point is important as they can inform you on what your cholesterol and triglyceride levels are.
Diabetes has become one of the most common diseases of the 21st century, most of which can lead to peripheral neuropathy. Although there are many factors behind this type of nerve damage, such as the use of medications and drugs, approximately 66 percent of all people with diabetes will develop peripheral neuropathy over time.
Fortunately, you can avoid developing pre-diabetes, diabetes and ultimately, peripheral neuropathy, by making some simple lifestyle changes. While changing the regular diet you are used to can be challenging, taking such a task slowly can help ease the daunting change. For instance, you can try changing one thing about your diet today. Whether it involves giving up soda or skipping sweets after dinner, this small change can be effortless for many. Now try doing this for 30 days. It will be difficult at first but it will get progressively easier.
For people who already developed diabetes as well as some of the common complications associated with the condition, keep in mind that both type 2 diabetes and peripheral neuropathy can be reversed with the right lifestyle changes as well. By addressing your diet and other lifestyle habits, such as the amount of exercise you participate in and how much sleep you get, the condition and its complications can be tremendously improved. In one 10-year long study of 70,000 diabetes-free women, researchers found that women who either slept less than five hours a night or more than nine hours each night were 34 percent more likely to develop diabetes than women who slept seven to eight hours each night.
In addition, getting the appropriate amount of vitamin D on a daily basis can also help improve diabetes. Evidence demonstrated that vitamin D can be extremely beneficial for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Taking vitamin D supplements if you’re not spending the necessary amount of time out in the sun can in turn help provide the required nutrients and minerals.
In conclusion, diabetes is considered to be one of the most prevalent conditions today, where nearly up to 50 percent of people have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Many factors can often increase the risk of developing the condition but diabetes can be prevented as well as reversed. If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes or you suspect you may have the condition, make sure to seek professional care to receive proper diagnosis and treatment.
Sourced from Nervedoctor.info
By Dr. Alex Jimenez
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