The Relationship of Diabetes to Other Diseases and Conditions
The US diabetes epidemic is more dangerous than most people realize. The Center for Disease Control recently indicated that more than 63% of Americans are at risk for diabetes due to a Body Mass Index (BMI) qualifying them as overweight. Diabetes not only causes other conditions and symptoms, but also is linked with kidney and cardiovascular diseases. To prevent complications, it's important to understand the relationship between diabetes and other diseases.
Retinopathy is a common complication of diabetes that causes decreed and blurry vision, and often blindness. The effect of diabetic retinopathy on vision depends on the stage of the disease. Diabetes' effect on the retina is a severe threat, mostly seen in elderly sufferers. People with diabetes also tend to experience long-term effects on the circulatory system. As diabetes progresses, the treaties in the retina weakened and form hemorrhages. In later stages of the disease, circulation problems cause areas of the eye to become oxygen-deprived. Consequently, new vessels develop that hemorrhage easily, and blood may leak into the retina as well.
Obesity and diabetes are scientifically proven to be directly linked. In fact, obesity is a direct cause of Type II Diabetes. Obesity is dangerous because an excessive proportion of body fat causes elevated blood glucose levels. The human body manufactures insulin after every meal to alert cells that higher levels of glucose are on the way. Type II Diabetes sufferers lack the ability to use this insulin hormone. And when insulin is not used properly, the body can not digest food correctly, it increases the risk of additional weight gain, as well as diabetes.
Kidney Disease / Kidney Failure
Diabetes affects many parts of the body. According to the National Kidney Foundation, diabetic kidney disease results from injured small blood vessels in the body. When blood vessels in the kidneys are injured, the kidneys can not clean the blood properly. At this point, the human body retains more water and salt than it should (which results in weight gain and ankle swelling). In addition, protein appears in the urine and waste materials accumulate in the blood. In addition, Type II Diabetes can cause nerve damage which can result in urination problems. The pressure resulting from a full bladder can back up and injure the kidneys. When urine remains in the bladder for too long, the high levels of sugar can cause the rapid growth of bacteria, resulting in an infection.
Heart Disease & Stroke
The American Diabetes Association says two-thirds of people with Type II Diabetes die from heart disease and stroke. As such, diabetes and heart disease work in tandem – and people with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing heart disease. A person with diabetes has higher than normal blood sugar levels. These high blood sugar levels can damage many parts of the body, including blood vessels. Heart disease is a direct result of narrowed or blocked blood vessels that lead to the heart. Here, increased blood sugar levels, common with Type II Diabetes sufferers, causes increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Scientists have investigated the possible relationship between breast cancer and diabetes and suggested that high levels of insulin increases the risk of breast cancer. Since many factors, such as obesity, increase the risk of both breast cancer and diabetes, it's been difficult for scientists to determine if diabetes itself is the issue. However, research indicates that women with diabetes have a 20% higher risk of breast cancer than women without diabetes. One recent study suggests that high blood sugar increases the risk of breast cancer, even among pre-menopausal women. In addition, significant weight gain (more than 55 lbs. Since age 18, or 22 lbs. After menopause) acts as a catalyst in causing diabetes – and can also increase the risk of breast cancer.
Of the 16 million Americans with diabetes, more than 25% will develop foot problems due to the disease, according to Foot.com. Diabetic foot problems develop from a combination of factors, including poor circulation and neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy causes an insensitivity to feel pain, heat and cold. As a result, people with diabetes may be unaware they have developed minor cuts, scrapes, blisters or pressure sores. If these minor injuries are left untreated, complications may result, lead to ulceration and possibly even amputation. Foot.com also states that diabetic neuropathy can cause deformities, such as bunions, hammer toes and Charcot feet.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)
CTS is another common complication of diabetic neuropathy. Because of the decreased or distorted nerve function, a patient's ability to feel nerve sensation is lessened. Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include numbness, tingling, weakness and burning sensations, usually beginning in the fingers and toes and progressing to the arms and legs. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, a 2005 study reported that about 85% of patients with Type I Diabetes develop CTS. Development of CTS was related to the patient's age, as well as the length of time they had diabetes.
All of the conditions listed above are related to diabetes, and are becoming growing concerns for Americans. Awareness of these associated diseases will hopefully lead to better prevention, such as healthy diet and exercise.