- Diabetes is a chronic condition when the body cannot produce or use adequate insulin.
- Cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, eye disease, nerve damage, and oral health problems are common comorbidities associated with diabetes.
- To prevent or delay the progression of these diseases, patients must control their blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
- Eating a healthy diet, engaging in regular physical activity, quitting smoking, and avoiding medications can help reduce the risk of complications.
- Regular check-ups can help manage risk factors and provide lifestyle advice to help people live healthy despite this chronic condition.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the body cannot produce adequate insulin or use it effectively. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to several complications. In addition to these complications, diabetes is also known to increase the risk of developing other health conditions known as comorbidities. Here’s what you need to know about diabetes and what diseases are comorbid with it.
What is Diabetes?
First, it’s essential to know what diabetes is. It has two types: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that affects the body’s ability to produce insulin, a hormone necessary for turning food into energy. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin injections or other medications (such as glucagon-like peptide-1) to control their blood sugar levels.
Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is a metabolic disorder that occurs when the body cannot use insulin effectively. This type of diabetes is usually caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, such as being overweight or obese, sedentary, or having poor nutrition. People with type 2 diabetes must manage their condition through diet, exercise, and medication to control their blood sugar levels.
Here are some common comorbidities that are associated with diabetes:
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among people with diabetes. It occurs when the blood vessels that supply the heart with oxygen and nutrients become narrowed or blocked, leading to heart attacks, strokes, and other complications.
People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than those without diabetes. Controlling blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels is essential to manage this comorbidity effectively. Eating a healthy diet, engaging in regular physical activity, quitting smoking, and taking prescribed medications are ways to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in people with diabetes.
Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure worldwide. It affects the tiny blood vessels in the kidneys, reducing kidney function over time. Early detection and treatment of kidney disease are critical to prevent or delay its progression.
Checking urine albumin levels and creatinine levels regularly, managing blood sugar and blood pressure levels, and avoiding medications that can damage the kidneys are some ways to prevent kidney disease in people with diabetes.
Diabetes can damage the blood vessels in the eyes, leading to diabetic retinopathy. This condition can cause vision loss or blindness if left untreated. To manage this comorbidity effectively, it is essential to undergo regular eye exams, keep blood sugar levels under control, and quit smoking. Laser therapy or surgery may sometimes be required to manage diabetic retinopathy.
Nerve damage, also known as diabetic neuropathy, occurs due to damage to the nerves that carry signals from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. It can lead to numbness, tingling, pain in the extremities, digestive problems, and urinary tract infections. Managing blood sugar levels, avoiding tobacco use and alcohol, and using prescribed medications are some ways to manage nerve damage in people with diabetes.
Oral Health Problems
People with diabetes are more susceptible to oral health problems like tooth decay, gum disease, and oral infections. High blood sugar levels and poor oral hygiene can increase the risk of these conditions. To manage oral health problems effectively, visiting a professional is first essential. Your local dentist’s office should have everything to prevent oral damage. Furthermore, they are knowledgeable about how they can handle clients with diabetes. You should also change your lifestyle and avoid sweet foods when you can.
How to Avoid Diabetes
Prevention will always be better than cure. Here are some ways you can avoid the disease:
Sugar isn’t the only thing that can be dangerous to your health. Cholesterol can also play a role in developing diabetes, contributing to obesity and other unhealthy conditions. Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, reduce your intake of processed foods and saturated fats, and exercise regularly.
Maintain Healthy Weight
Obesity is one of the major risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly will help you maintain a healthy weight. Ensure you include whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables in your meals, keep portions reasonable, and avoid sugary drinks and snacks.
Get Regular Check-ups
Regular check-ups are essential for everyone – especially those at risk of developing diabetes. Your doctor can help you manage your risk factors, provide lifestyle advice, and monitor your health closely. Don’t hesitate to ask for any tests or screenings if you suspect something is wrong.
Diabetes is a severe medical condition but manageable with proper care. Understanding the comorbidities and how to manage them is essential for people living with diabetes. Remember to take control of your health and manage stress levels. With these tips, you can live a healthy life despite having this chronic condition.