Many of us who have been diabetic for many years (I am "celebrating" my 21st diabetic birthday this week) need a jolt back to reality every once in a while to remember what we are facing. Sure, there are the short term problems like dizziness, slurred speech, confusion, and irritability, but what I want to rehighlight for you are the long term complications, those that aren't so easily (if at all) fixed.
HEART (AND OTHER BLOOD VESSELS): Chest pain, heart attack, and stroke are all major and serious problems that can occur. In fact, by some estimates in North America, 65% of diabetics (Type 1 and 2) are killed by some sort of heart or blood vessel disease. In fact, as a diabetic your chances of death from heart disease and stroke are up to 4 times higher than other people in the population
EYES: Diabetic retinopathy is a damage of the blood vessels in the eyes. Almost 30% of diabetics age 40 and over have some sort of diabetic retinopathy. This is the leading cause of blindness in North America, for people aged 20 - 74.
KIDNEYS: Your body's filtering system can be damaged with bad BG control for an extended time. The results of which are kidney failure or end-stage kidney disease. Diabetics account for almost 50% of all new cases of kidney failure.
FEET: Nerve damage to your feet or poor blood circulation can lead to a loss of feeling in your lower extremities leaving you unable to feel when problems persist, leading to a requirement to amputate your foot. or leg! More than 60% of non-traumatic lower limb amputations are taken from diabetics.
TEETH: Higher blood sugars result in more sugar in your saliva and lead to gum disease and plague build-up. Roughly a third of diabetics have severe periodontal disease resulting in loss of attachment of your teeth to your gums!
This post isn't ALL doom & gloom, though. There are some diabetics who are able to escape without serious complications. Studies seem to talk about different groups and percentages, but approximately 10-15% of diabetics can get through life without any serious complications of the disease. Is there something special that they have in their genes that help them? Is it their diet? Is it care they received early in their diagnosis? Is it care they have received throughout their diabetic life? Studies are still being done, but the one thing that is agreed to is that their HA1C tests are consistently within acceptable limits (below 7.5 for sure, and the numbers get stronger the lower that number is).
Which statistic do you want to be a part of?