Prevent Complications with Good Diabetes Control - Resources for Controlling Diabetes - Diabetes Services - Medical Services and Programs - Seton

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Without proper care, diabetes can lead to eye disease (Retinopathy), kidney disease (Nephropathy), nerve disease (Neuropathy) and heart and blood vessel disease. The best way to delay or avoid such diabetes complications is to have good blood sugar control. Blood sugars should be as close to normal as possible. Regular medical check-ups are also important in the early detection and treatment of problems. Here are some of the most common diabetes complications and tips on the best ways to prevent them.

Eye Problems
Diabetes can weaken the blood vessels in the back of the eye or retina. If blood sugars remain high, the blood vessels can start to leak. Regular eye check-ups are important since your vision doesn't change during this time. If eye problems go untreated, they can result in vision loss. Both blood sugars and blood pressure needs to be in good control. Get a dialated eye exam when you are diagnosed with diabetes and another exam every year after that. Persons with Type 1 diabetes should have an exam 5 years after diagnosis.

Kidney Problems
Kidneys filter waste products from your body and remove them through the urine. High blood sugars thicken the kidney filters, so they don't work normally. High blood pressure can make kidney disease worse. There are special blood pressure medications that can protect the kidneys. The best way to protect the kidney is with good sugar control and good blood pressure. Never stop taking blood pressure pills unless your doctor tells you to stop. Check your kidney once a year for microalbuminuria (tiny amounts of protein in the urine).

Nerve Problems
Nerves carry messages throughout your body. High blood sugars can damage the nerves and you can't feel things as well as you once did. Sometimes there can be tingling and pain. Nerve problems can cause diarrhea, bladder infection, dry skin, loss of balance and sweating after eating. Tell your doctor if you experience any of these problems. To protect your nerves, keep the blood sugar in good control, check your feet every day and get your bare feet examined every 3-6 months. Only drink alcohol such as wine or light beer and do so in moderation.

Heart and Blood Vessel Problems
Having diabetes increases your risk for heart attack, stroke and poor blood flow to your legs. Besides normal blood sugars and normal blood pressure control, keep the blood cholesterol down by eating low fat foods and exercising several times a week (unless your doctor has limited your exercise). Also maintain a desirable weight and limit the salt intake. Use a small amount of salt in the cooking of food, but don't add any salt at the table. If you smoke, stop!

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