Diabetes affects close to 415 million globally and leads to the development of various complications in the body. Diabetes has both short-term and long-term effects on the body. Short-term complications usually occur when the blood glucose level is too low (hypoglycemia) or too high (hyperglycemic nonketotic syndrome). Long-term complications are quite fatal as they usually cause damage to the body. These complications come about after years of poor diabetes management.
Diabetes, the effects of diabetes, are seen on various organs including the heart, kidneys, skin, eyes, feet, blood vessels and nerves. Diabetes causes a strain on the heart to pump blood due to the constriction of the blood vessels following deposition of fats. This, in turn, increases blood pressure with a high chance of stroke. Diabetes affects the eyes and causes several complications including diabetic retinopathy, macular edema, cataracts, and glaucoma. The symptoms of eye damage in diabetes patient come later and are not easily reversed. Diabetes patients are at an increased risk of developing kidney disease attributed to diabetic nephropathy characterized by the damage of blood vessels in the kidney.
Diabetes also causes nerve damage due to high blood glucose levels leading to impaired sensory and motor functions in various body organs. On the skin, diabetes cause drying leading to cracks and a possibility of infections. People with diabetes are also at increased risk of foot problems including calluses, infections, or ulcers usually brought about by nerve damage. Diabetic patient with wounds or ulcers on their feet ought to undergo hydrocolloid dressing to reduce the chances of amputation.
While such complications cannot be entirely prevented, they can be ward off or even prevented through lifestyle changes including healthy eating, quit drinking and smoking cigarettes, daily exercising and lowering cholesterol intake. Below is an infographic illustrating the effects of diabetes on the body.