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November is National diabetes Awareness Month. This disease affects so many people and can be difficult to understand as each type is different. In fact, nearly 10% of Americans are currently diagnosed with one of the two main types of diabetes.
What’s worse? More than 80 million Americans are living with Prediabetes. This is a condition that can lead to type 2 diabetes if left untreated, as we discussed last week in our blog. Prediabetes is when the blood glucose level in the body is high, but not high enough to be diabetes.
If you’re living with diabetes or at risk, there are some diabetes complications you should know and avoid.
What is Diabetes?
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body cannot create enough insulin. This is a hormone that’s produced by the pancreas.
Type 2 diabetes is slightly different. It occurs when the body cannot use insulin correctly, or your body resists the hormone. This is insulin resistance. It also occurs in pregnant women due to the hormonal changes that come with pregnancy. When this occurs in pregnant women, it is gestational diabetes.
Generally speaking, those with type 1 diabetes are born with it and those with type 2 aren’t diagnosed until adulthood. Gestational diabetes is only diagnosed in pregnant women that haven't had diabetes before.
What are Diabetes Complications?
Over time, diabetes can lead to a risk of different heart complications, such as a heart attacks or strokes. The disease can also lead to kidney disease. If diabetes goes untreated, you may be at risk of total kidney failure.
But there are some things you can do to manage your diabetes. Consult your physician for the best treatment plan to reduce your risk of these complications.
Another major diabetes complication is blindness or vision loss. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness and vision loss. Those with diabetes should receive dilation exams annually:
- Type 1 Diabetes - annually after 5 years of diagnosis.
- Type 2 diabetes - annually after diagnosis.
- Gestational diabetes - within first 3 months of conception and then at discretion of doctor.
There can also be complications from some of the medications used to treat diabetes. These complications can range from severe side effects to an increased risk for other health complications.
This is the case for some SGLT2 inhibitors such as Invokana. In particular, this medication dramatically increases the risk of a serious genital infections as well as lower-limb amputations. Thousands have filed lawsuits as a result of these serious complications.
How to Avoid Complications
Always talk to your doctor about which medication is best for you. Although there are complications that can come with the condition, many people with diabetes live happy, healthy lives.
By following your treatment plan, sticking with exercise, and diet, you can manage your diabetes easily.
You are the best advocate for your own health! If you have any questions or concerns, consult your physician right away.
This content was contributed by Darian Carrow from ConsumerSafety.org.