Managing living with the complications of type 2 diabetes mellitus – part 2

Source: Wikipedia Commons

Source: Wikipedia Commons

The long-term complications of type 2 diabetes mellitus can be devastating.

Unusually high blood glucose levels, a characteristic feature of complicated type 2 diabetes mellitus, is linked to accelerating the build-up of fatty deposits in blood vessels; this can lead to damage to blood vessels, which may impair vision, neuronal transmission and kidney function.

This is particularly of interest where damage impedes blood flow to certain critical parts of the body (e.g the heart and legs). This is linked to significantly raised blood pressure and is known to increase ones risk of developing major cardiovascular diseases such as coronary artery disease and peripheral artery disease. Use of measures to control blood pressure is linked with reducing the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks, strokes, claudication amongst others.

Those with longstanding diabetes may experience damage to blood vessels surrounding the retina (this is called diabetic retinopathy). Haemorrhage or exudation may arise due to destruction to blood vessels or as a result of formation of atypical blood vessels connecting to the vitreous humour. Some features of this condition include seeing shapes floating in your field of vision, eye pain, redness and blurred vision. This can be a severe condition if not managed well.

The steady impairment of nerves may also be seen in people with complicated type 2 diabetes mellitus (this is called diabetic neuropathy). This most commonly results in numbness or painful sensations; starting in the feet then distributing to fingers and hands. This condition has no exact cure, however pain medication as well as glycaemic control can help manage the condition and prevent it from worsening.

In some people with chronic diabetes, progressive kidney dysfunction may occur (this is called diabetic nephropathy). Abnormal amounts of protein may initially be found in the urine, kidney impairment may follow and subsequent kidney failure can occur after years of gradual damage.

While challenging to manage, being able to look after ones self is an important part of living with the complications of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

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