Diabetes complications are all the health problems that develop as a result of poorly controlled blood sugar. The complication could be acute, developing suddenly, or chronic when they develop over time.
Persistent high blood sugar can cause damages to various organs in your body which may lead to complications that pose a big threat to your life.
What Is A Well Controlled Diabetes?
The tool used in measuring how well your blood sugar is controlled is called the A1C test. It is a simple blood test that reveals your average blood sugar level in the past two to three months. The results of the A1C test are reported in percentage (%) with higher values indicating poor control and increased risk of complications.
Expected A1C Values
The A1C target is usually tailored to individuals based on age, weight, lifestyle, and other factors. The general goal as stated by the American Diabetes Association (ADA), is an A1C value that is less than 7%.
An A1C test is also a tool in identifying the possibility of developing diabetes in the near future (the pre-diabetes stage) and in the initial diagnosis of diabetes. The A1C value for people without diabetes is between 4.5% and 5.7%. A value between 5.7% and less than 6.5% is considered pre-diabetes, while a value of 6.5% or higher is in the diabetes stage.
An A1C value between 6.5% and less than 7% means that your average blood sugar levels are between 140 to 154mg/dl. The goal in the less than 7% A1C target in diabetes control, is to maintain a fasting blood sugar (FBS) of 130mg/dl and less than 180mg/dl for two hours after meal test, using your glucometer.
Besides your regular monitoring tests at home, it is recommended that you have your A1C values tested twice a year if your blood sugar is in good control. People who have poorly controlled diabetes are required to have the A1C test more often.
The followings are the possible health complications that poorly controlled diabetes can cause.
- Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)
- Kidney failure
- Foot problems
- Lower limb amputation
Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)
High blood sugar causes damage to many blood vessels and nerves in the body, including those that control your heart. This can cause complications relating to the heart such as heart attack, chest pain, stroke, and heart failure. It is established that 1.4 to 4.7% of middle-aged people living with diabetes have a cardiovascular disease event.
Diabetes retinopathy develops when persistently high blood sugar damages the retina of your aye. The retina is the part of the eye that detects light from the outside and sends signals to your brain through the optic nerve.
When the retina and the nerves supplying it are damaged, visual impairment and possible blindness occur.
It is, therefore, important to have your eyesight checked from time to time if you are living with diabetes.
Kidney failure (Nphropathy)
Diabetes nephropathy or kidney disease is one of the chronic complications of diabetes. It is detected by the presence of protein in the urine, measuring up to 500mg every 24 hours.
The following signs are indicative of diabetic nephropathy:
- Passing foamy urine
- Unexplained proteinuria ( protein in urine without any other cause)
- Damage to eyesight
- Cronary artery disease
- Skin ulcers (wounds) that are difficult to heal.
This can present acutely as numbness, the feeling as though there was no blood circulation to any part of your body, or as foot ulcers, which may ultimately lead to foot amputation.
Lower limb Amputation
The legs are the lower limb of the human body and can be affected badly by uncontrolled blood sugar when the nerves and blood vessels supplying them are damaged. This could result in open sores(ulcers) and infections that are difficult to heal and could lead to surgical removal of the affected leg.
Risk Factors of Diabetes Complications
The three major factors that can dispose you to diabetes complications are:
- Hyperglycemia; high blood glucose.
- Hypercholesterolemia; high blood cholesterol.
- Hypertension; high blood pressure.
Taking care of yourself as a diabetic patient, with the goal of putting the three factors above in check, will reduce your risk of developing any of the complications discussed.