What Are the Effects of Diabetes - Long-Term and Short-Term - Tiger Medical Institute

What Are the Effects of Diabetes - Long-Term and Short-Term

11 minutes  to read
Splash image for What Are the Effects of Diabetes - Long-Term and Short-Term - Tiger Medical Institute

“Diabetes management is a dynamic journey. With advances in research, personalized approaches, and a focus on early intervention, we are making strides towards better outcomes.” ~ Dr. Camillo Ricordi

Diabetes, a chronic medical condition characterized by elevated levels of blood glucose, can have both short-term and long-term effects on various aspects of health.

The effects can vary depending on the type of diabetes (Type 1 or Type 2) and how well it is managed. Here, we’ll explore both the short-term and long-term effects of diabetes. These include the following:

Short-Term Effects of Diabetes:

  1. Hyperglycemia (High Blood Sugar)
  2. Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar)
  3. Dehydration
  4. Ketoacidosis (Type 1 Diabetes)
  5. Infections and Slow Wound Healing

Long-Term Effects of Diabetes:

  1. Cardiovascular Complications
  2. Kidney Damage (Nephropathy)
  3. Nerve Damage (Neuropathy)
  4. Eye Complications (Retinopathy)
  5. Foot Complications
  6. Hearing Loss
  7. Altered Mental Health
  8. Gastrointestinal Issues
  9. Skin Complications

Let’s review each more in detail below.

Short-Term Effects of Diabetes

1. Hyperglycemia (High Blood Sugar)

According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Hyperglycemia happens when there’s too much sugar (glucose) in your blood. It’s also called high blood sugar or high blood glucose.”

Short-term spikes in blood glucose levels, known as hyperglycemia, can lead to symptoms such as increased thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, and blurred vision.

2. Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar)

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Hypoglycemia is a condition in which your blood sugar (glucose) level is lower than the standard range.”

Overmedication or insufficient food intake can result in low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia), causing symptoms like shakiness, dizziness, sweating, irritability, and, in severe cases, loss of consciousness.

3. Dehydration

Elevated blood sugar levels can lead to increased urination, causing dehydration.

Dehydration can further contribute to symptoms such as thirst, dry mouth, and headaches.

4. Ketoacidosis (Type 1 Diabetes)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Ketoacidosis “develops when your body doesn’t have enough insulin to allow blood sugar into your cells for use as energy. Instead, your liver breaks down fat for fuel, a process that produces acids called ketones. When too many ketones are produced too fast, they can build up to dangerous levels in your body.”

Accumulation of ketones can result in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), characterized by symptoms like vomiting, abdominal pain, and confusion.

5. Infections and Slow Wound Healing

High blood sugar levels can impair the immune system, making individuals with diabetes more susceptible to infections.

Additionally, diabetes can affect blood circulation, leading to slow wound healing.

Long-Term Effects of Diabetes

1. Cardiovascular Complications

Diabetes significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral artery disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “If you have diabetes, you’re twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke than someone who doesn’t have diabetes.”

Over time, elevated blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels and the heart.

2. Kidney Damage (Nephropathy)

Diabetes is a leading cause of kidney disease, and about 1 out of 3 adults with diabetes have kidney disease.

Persistent high blood sugar levels can damage the small blood vessels in the kidneys, leading to impaired kidney function and, in severe cases, kidney failure.

3. Nerve Damage (Neuropathy)

Elevated blood sugar can damage nerves, particularly in the extremities.

This can lead to symptoms such as tingling, numbness, and pain, often starting in the feet and hands.

4. Eye Complications (Retinopathy)

Diabetes is a major cause of vision loss. It can damage the blood vessels in the retina, leading to diabetic retinopathy, which can result in blindness if not detected and treated.

5. Foot Complications

According to Better Health, “Diabetes can reduce blood circulation and damage the nerves to the feet.”

This increases the risk of foot ulcers, infections, and, in severe cases, amputation.

6. Hearing Loss

Studies suggest that individuals with diabetes may be at a higher risk of developing hearing loss over time.

7. Altered Mental Health

Diabetes can have psychological effects.

The CDC reveals that “People with diabetes are 2 to 3 times more likely to have depression than people without diabetes. Only 25% to 50% of people with diabetes who have depression get diagnosed and treated.”

Managing a chronic condition can take a toll on mental well-being. It is important to seek help if you are struggling with depression.

8. Gastrointestinal Issues

Diabetes can affect the nerves controlling the digestive system, leading to issues such as gastroparesis (delayed stomach emptying) and other gastrointestinal problems.

9. Skin Complications

Skin issues, including bacterial and fungal infections, are more common in individuals with diabetes due to impaired immune function and slow wound healing.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “People with diabetes are more prone to skin infections due to several factors. High blood sugar levels weaken the immune system, making it difficult for the body to fight off infections. Additionally, diabetes can cause nerve damage, reducing the ability to feel pain, heat, or cold. This means that individuals with diabetes may not notice injuries or infections as easily as people without the condition.”

Next Steps to Preventing Diabetes

It’s important to note that the long-term complications of diabetes are often preventable or manageable through proper diabetes management. This includes maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, adopting a balanced diet, engaging in regular physical activity, and adhering to prescribed medications.

Regular monitoring, routine medical check-ups, and proactive lifestyle choices are key to minimizing the impact of diabetes on both short-term and long-term health.

Individuals with diabetes should work closely with healthcare professionals to develop a comprehensive care plan tailored to their specific needs.

You have what it takes inside you to make a definite choice that will change the future trajectory of your health.

Our team at Tiger Medical has the experience, clinical skills, and coaching acumen to help you get your health and energy back.

To talk to one of our professionals, click here to schedule your call!

For further reading, view the following articles on our learning center:

Lance VanTine

Lance VanTine

Client Success Manager