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High Blood Sugar Complications

Why is my doctor concerned about high blood sugar?

High blood sugar can lead to long term health complications.

How does high blood sugar cause complications?

High blood sugar affects your body's ability to do its job effectively.  Specifically, high blood sugar clogs the blood vessels and leads to blocked blood flow.

What happens if blood sugar is not controlled?

  • Amputations - high blood sugar can damage the nerves.  Numbness or a loss of feeling in extremities is characteristic of neuropathy (nerve damage).  It is very important for people with diabetes to check feet everyday for cuts, abrasions, blisters and other injuries that one may not feel.  High blood sugar also impairs immune system function causing ordinary cuts to become infected.  If an infected cut goes unnoticed, it can become severe and lead to amputation.
  • Blindness - "retinopathy" is damage to blood vessels supplying blood to the retina (a portion of the eye that senses light).  Retinopathy is the number one cause of new blindness diagnosis among adults.
  • Heart disease - diabetes increases risk for heart disease.  Poorly controlled blood sugar can lead to an increase in blood fat such as cholesterol and triglycerides.   High blood sugar can increase blood vessel clotting which heightens risk of blood flow blockage to tissues.  High blood pressure is also a concern.
  • Kidney disease - kidneys clean or rid your blood of waste and toxins.  When the kidneys do not work effectively, wastes or toxins stay in your body.  Dialysis or mechanical cleaning of blood is sometimes needed in severe cases.

How do I avoid complications?

Controlling blood sugar will help avoid complications.

How do I control blood sugar?

Many people control diabetes by following a healthy meal plan, regular exercise, monitoring blood sugar and taking medications as advised.  Talk with your doctor or diabetes educator to learn about healthy blood sugar ranges.  Good blood sugar control and regular doctor visits will help you to minimize diabetes complications.

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