People with diabetes have a higher risk of developing certain health problems, or complications, and this risk is particularly high for people who are overweight, who smoke or who are not physically active.
"Only when you've had it for a while and begin to develop some of the complications, then you realise that it is not such a mild thing after all and appreciate the seriousness.'
"l now realise the different things that happen to you from being a diabetic for a long time, from the top of your head to the tip of your toes.'
Now I have the complications, I've had a heart attack and a bypass, only now I realise that it's not such a great thing to have after all, but you just cope and try to lead a normal life, I have to be more careful now.'
Complications are conditions that arise as a result of having diabetes. Some are short term, for example hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose), hyperglycaemia (high blood glucose) and ketoacidosis (very high blood glucose). Others are more long term and develop gradually over time and include heart disease, high blood pressure, damage to the kidneys, and eye and nerve damage.
However, it is important to remember that you will not inevitably develop complications simply because you have diabetes. Careful research has shown that the better your blood glucose control, the less likely you are to experience complications. Knowing this helps many people to work harder at controlling their diabetes when they're tempted to let things slide a little. Along with good diabetic control, giving up (or not starting) smoking can reduce your chances of developing complications. Smoking and diabetes definitely do not mix. All of the possible complications are more common in people who smoke, and anyone who has already developed any of the associated problems should stop smoking immediately. The importance of this cannot be overemphasised, and that knowledge may help to give you the incentive you need to stop or drastically reduce your smoking habit. This chapter will discuss the physical consequences of diabetes, in particular the short-term complications which include hypoglycaemia, hyperglycaemia and diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and how they can be avoided and treated. The chapter will also discuss the long-term complications, which may include heart disease, eye disorders, kidney disease, nerve disorders and foot and leg problems.
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