Common Complications of Diabetes
While staying healthy is the goal of all people, especially older adults, those suffering from diabetes need to be aware of possible changes to health. Diabetes is unfortunately the seventh leading cause of death, and can lead to permanent disabilities.
According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately two thirds of people living with diabetes will die from heart disease. Diabetes has the two pronged effect of raising bad cholesterol, while also lowering the good cholesterol levels. This causes the narrowing of the arteries due to the buildup of fatty materials, raising the chances of a heart attack or a stroke.
The ADA also reports that almost half of all people living with diabetes have nerve damage, known as diabetic neuropathy. This condition causes a loss of sensation, which makes patients less likely to notice injuries. Poor circulation, combined with the neuropathy, often leads to a weakened immune system, harming the body’s ability to fight off infections or heal wounds.
The poor circulation caused by diabetes coupled with the nerve damage makes infections of the foot and lower legs more common. This can lead to infections spreading to the bone and causing problems necessitating amputation. Feet should be inspected regularly, and any cuts or wounds should be kept clean and reported to your doctor.
Diabetes is the most common cause of kidney failure, as well. While it’s a slow process that can take up to 15 years to develop, diabetics should take care to monitor themselves for signs of failure, and get regular testing of their kidney function.