Doctors and patients are concerned about diabetes because of the complications that can occur if the blood sugar is not well controlled. The good news is that controlling diabetes will decrease the risk of complications over both the short and long term. Diabetes-related complications tend to happen over long periods of time. Also, the higher the average blood sugar, the higher the risk of developing problems.
First off, why does diabetes cause damage to certain parts of the body? Simply put, high sugar in the blood damages the walls of both small and large blood vessels. Doctors usually talk about diabetes complications based on the size of the blood vessels that are damaged: small blood vessels (microvascular) and large blood vessels (macrovascular).
The exact way that elevated sugar can hurt the blood vessels is complicated and under research, but there are two major changes that occur. One, there is a decrease in how well the blood vessels can expand when needed and two, it is harder to repair damaged blood vessels. Therefore, areas in the body with many small blood vessels are more likely to be affected by high blood sugar. Areas that are particularly sensitive to elevated blood sugar levels are the back of the eye, the nerves that control sensation in the feet, and the kidney. Larger blood vessels, like those that supply the heart and brain, can also be damaged.
Other medical issues associated with diabetes are hearing problems, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain types of cancer.
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