Diabetes mellitus and complications in patients having this disease

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic condition associated with a deficiency in insulin secretion or insulin action in the body. Insulin is a body hormone that regulates blood sugar in the body. Insufficient production of the hormone or the body’s inability to effectively use the secreted insulin results in high blood sugar levels. When diabetes is left uncontrolled for an extended period, it results in a condition known as hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia increases the risk of developing multiple and primarily vascular complications that damage small and large blood vessels.

Some of the most common complications of diabetes mellitus include:

Cardiovascular disease. Diabetes mellitus increases the risk of developing various cardiovascular conditions, including coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and arteriosclerosis. Hyperglycemia also increases the risk of developing high blood pressure, increasing the risk of stroke and heart attack.

Diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is the damage of blood vessels of the retina. It is a common complication in diabetic patients and the primary cause of blindness in adults in the United States. Hyperglycemia also increases the risk of other serious eye vision conditions such as cataracts and glaucoma.

Diabetic nephropathy. Longstanding hyperglycemia can cause major changes in the kidneys, including glomerular sclerosis, basement membrane thickening, and mesangial expansion. These changes cause glomerular hypertension and a gradual decline in glomerular filtration. The condition often remains asymptomatic until renal failure or nephrotic syndrome develops. The kidneys are also made of millions of tiny blood vessels that filter waste products from the blood. Hyperglycemia can damage these blood vessels causing chronic kidney damage and eventually cause kidney failure, which is irreversible.

Neuropathy or nerve damage. Hyperglycemia can damage the walls of the tiny blood vessels that nourish nerve cells, especially in your limbs. This can destroy the nerves causing a tingly, numbness, and stinging sensation that starts at the tips of s of fingers and gradually spreads upward. If left untreated, the condition can eventually result in the complete loss of feeling in the legs and hands. Damaged nerves in other parts of the body can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and erectile dysfunction in men.

Skin problems. People with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing skin conditions. In fact, skin problems are usually the initial symptoms of diabetes. Some common skin conditions associated with diabetes mellitus include bacterial and fungal infections and itching. Other skin problems common in or exclusive to diabetes patients include diabetic dermopathy, diabetes blisters, lipoidica diabeticorum, and necrobiosis.

Other complications of diabetes mellitus include foot damage, Alzheimer’s diseases, depression, diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a serious medical emergency that can cause a diabetic coma.

Papatheodorou, K., Papanas, N., Banach, M., Papazoglou, D., & Edmonds, M. (2016). Complications of diabetes in 2016.

Targher, G., Lonardo, A., & Byrne, C. D. (2018). Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and chronic vascular complications of diabetes mellitus. Nature Reviews Endocrinology14(2), 99.

Verhulst, M. J., Loos, B. G., Gerdes, V. E., & Teeuw, W. J. (2019). Evaluating all potential oral complications of diabetes mellitus. Frontiers in endocrinology10, 56.

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