Diabetes: What happens if symptoms go undetected? Look for this to avoid dangerous outcome

Diabetes is a condition that impacts a person’s blood sugar levels, and there are two main types - type 1 and type 2. 

Type 1 diabetes is where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin. 

Type 2 diabetes is where the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells don’t react to insulin. 

The main symptoms common in both types of diabetes are: 

  • Urinating more often than usual, particularly at night 
  • Feeling very thirsty 
  • Feeling very tired 
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Itching around the penis or vagina, or frequent episodes of thrush 
  • Cuts or wounds that heal slowly 
  • Blurred vision - caused by the lens of the eye becoming dry 

Often symptoms may seem harmless, but the NHS, which outlines these symptoms to watch out for, also warns what untreated diabetes can lead to. 

The public health service says: “High glucose levels can damage blood vessels, nerves and organs. 

“Even a mildly raised glucose level that doesn’t cause any symptoms can have long-term damaging effects.” 

From diabetic retinopathy to kidney disease, these are just a few of the complications that can arise if diabetes is left untreated.

Heart disease and stroke 

The likelihood of you developing heart disease or stroke is five times bigger if you have diabetes. 

The NHS says: “Prolonged, poorly controlled blood glucose levels increase the likelihood of atherosclerosis, where the blood vessels become clogged up and narrowed by fatty substances. 

“This may result in poor blood supply to your heart, causing angina, which is a dull, heavy or tight pain in the chest. It also increases the chance that a blood vessel in your heart or brain will become blocked, leading to a heart attack or stroke.” 

Diabetic retinopathy 

This is when the retina, the light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the eye, becomes damaged. 

The NHS says: “Blood vessels in the retina can become blocked or leaky, or can grow haphazardly. This prevents light fully passing through to your retina. If it isn’t treated, it can damage your vision.” 

Kidney disease 

If the small blood vessels of your kidney become blocked and leaky, your kidney will work less efficiently. 

The NHS adds: “In rare, severe cases, kidney disease can lead to kidney failure. This can mean a kidney replacement, treatment with dialysis or sometimes kidney transplantation becomes necessary.” 

Nerve damage 

High blood glucose levels can damage the tiny blood vessels in your nerves. 

The NHS explains: “This can cause a tingling or burning pain that spreads from your fingers and toes up through your limbs. It can also cause numbness, which can lead to ulceration of the feet. 

“Damage to the peripheral nervous system, which includes all parts of the nervous system that lie outside the central nervous system, is known as peripheral neuropathy. 

If the nerves in your digestive system are affected, you may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea or constipation.” 

Nocturnal diarrhoea is a common sign of diabetes, research has found. 

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