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Diabetes Health Center

Diabetes Complications

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Diabetic Retinopathy

To protect your vision, all people with diabetes should see an ophthalmologist (an eye doctor) at least yearly. As part of the eye exam the doctor will dilate your eyes so that he or she can see the back of the eye (retina) and determine if the diabetes is causing damage. In people with type 1 diabetes, these annual exams should start within three to five years of diabetes once the patient is age 10 or older. People with type 2 diabetes should have their first eye exam once they are diagnosed. Those with eye complications may need to see their ophthalmologist more frequently. Women with diabetes who become pregnant should have a comprehensive eye exam during the first trimester and close follow-up with an eye doctor during their pregnancy. (This recommendation does not apply to women who develop gestational diabetes.)

Gastroparesis

Diabetes increases your risk of gastroparesis. With gastroparesis, the nerves to the stomach are damaged and stop working properly. This causes the stomach to take too long to empty its contents and makes it difficult to manage blood glucose levels. Sometimes, changing your diet can help. There are some medications and treatments for gastroparesis.

Talk to your doctor about ways to prevent diabetes complications. Ask for information on early warning signs so you can seek treatment when it is most effective.

Erectile Dysfunction

Diabetes increases the chance of developing erectile dysfunction, or impotence. For some men, adopting a healthier lifestyle, such as quitting smoking, exercising regularly, and reducing stress, may be all that is needed to resolve erectile dysfunction. In this health topic, you'll also learn why it's important to talk to your health care provider about your erectile dysfunction, as your doctor can recommend other remedies -- including medications, a vacuum constriction device (VCD), and other erectile dysfunction aids -- that can help.

Skin Problems

As many as a third of people with diabetes will have a skin condition related to their disease at some time in their lives. High levels of glucose in the blood provide an excellent breeding ground for bacteria and fungi and can reduce the body's ability to heal itself. Fortunately, most skin conditions can be prevented and successfully treated if caught early. If your skin is not cared for properly with type 2 diabetes, a minor skin condition can turn into a serious problem with potentially severe consequences.

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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