Understanding Common Complications of Diabetes
Diabetes alone is not a terminal illness. In fact, when diabetes is well-managed through the right combination of diet, exercise, and medication, people with diabetes can lead a long, healthy life. However, when diabetes is poorly managed or combined with other conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or smoking, complications can occur.
What are the most common diabetes complications?
Diabetes can be a risk factor for a number of serious complications. Common diabetes complications include:
Heart Disease or Stroke – Individuals with diabetes are twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke than those without diabetes.
Kidney Disease – When blood sugar levels are not managed, they can spike. High blood sugar levels can damage the kidneys leading to chronic kidney disease. Left untreated, chronic kidney disease can lead to kidney failure.
Diabetic Retinopathy – High blood sugar can also damage the blood vessels in the back of the eyes. Early symptoms include blurry vision, floaters, dark areas of vision, and difficulty perceiving colors. If not treated, diabetic retinopathy can lead to blindness.
Neuropathy – Neuropathy in diabetics is nerve damage caused by high blood pressure. It can cause numbness and pain and affect mobility. Neuropathy typically affects the feet and legs, but it can also cause complications with digestion, blood vessels, and heart.
Amputations – If diabetic neuropathy is not caught and treated, it can lead to infections in the feet and legs that may require amputation.
These common diabetes complications often develop slowly without any noticeable symptoms. The best way to prevent them is to make and keep annual check-ups with your family doctor, dentist, and optometrist.
Hospice and Diabetes
While diabetes alone will often not meet the criteria for hospice, a patient who has diabetes along with one of these common complications of diabetes may find their life expectancy impacted. Once a physician determines that the two conditions together will lower the patient’s life expectancy to six months or less if the illnesses follow their normal course, then the patient is eligible to receive hospice care.
To learn more about how Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care recognizes and treats diabetes end-of-life signs and symptoms, please call 1-888-564-3405.
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