Diabetes 101: Complications and Lowering the Risks


Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects millions of people around the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it affects 8.5% of people aged 18 and above.

In many cases, you could be prone to diabetes if you have a family history of the disease or overweight. When uncontrolled, diabetes can lead to more severe conditions, like blindness, heart disease, and kidney failure.

If you’re at risk of diabetes, prevention is essential to having a high quality of life. We list ways you can maintain your health and prevent getting diabetes.

The Complications of Diabetes

The long-term complications develop the longer you have diabetes. Some difficulties can be damaging, while others can be life-threatening.

When you are diagnosed with diabetes, you could be at risk of complications like:

  • Cardiovascular disease: A poor blood sugar control leads to atherosclerosis, chest pain, and stroke.
  • Depression: The frustration of having diabetes can lead a patient to depression, affecting the management of the disease.
  • Eye damage: Diabetes can damage the retina, leading to cataracts, glaucoma, or blindness.
  • Kidney damage: Diabetes can damage the kidney’s filtering system that could lead to irreversible kidney failure, which may require a transplant or dialysis.
  • Nerve damage: Too much sugar can damage the walls of your capillaries. This damage leads to numbness and tingling of body parts. When left untreated, you could lose all sense of feeling in the affected areas.

Preventing the Risks of Diabetes

Although you can’t change your age, genes, or past behaviors, changing your lifestyle can reduce the risk of diabetes. Here are four ways of preventing this chronic illness:

1. Change your food intake

Avoid eating food with high sugar and refined carbs. These types of food increase your insulin and blood sugar levels.

Instead, increase your fiber intake by eating more beans, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and whole grains. If you’re craving sugar, opt for alternatives. For example, instead of adding sugar on your Asian jasmine tea, add natural sweeteners like honey.

woman using a fitness ball

2. Work out regularly

Regular exercise improves your body’s insulin function and response. Physical activities like aerobic exercise, strengthen training, and high-intensity interval training were proven to reduce blood sugar and insulin resistance among overweight and obese adults. However, it’s best to choose a physical activity you enjoy and stick to it in the long term.

3. Stay hydrated

Sticking to water as your primary drink helps you avoid beverages that have high levels of sugar. According to medical experts, drinking eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day is enough. However, depending on your physical activity, you might need more or less.

4. Visit your doctor

The American Diabetes Association recommends a blood glucose screening for people:

  • Ages 45 or older
  • Overweight at any age
  • With a family history of diabetes

This involves fasting for eight hours before the blood test. Your doctor might also recommend stopping taking medications for the test so that it returns more accurate results.

Diabetes is a chronic illness that causes other medical conditions, like heart disease and kidney damage. Whether you’re at risk or entirely away from a diagnosis, managing your lifestyle is the key to preventing this disease.

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