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Diabetes Overview
Types of Diabetes
Glucose Meters
Long-term Complications

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Diabetes Complications

Short-term complications of diabetes include:

  • Infections: Diabetics have a harder time fighting infections due to impaired immune functions. This impaired ability can further affect glucose control.
  • Hypoglycemia: Blood glucose level less than 70 mg/dL (3.5 mmol/l) is called hypoglycemia. This condition occurs when there is too much insulin and not enough glucose in your blood. The usual causes include taking too much diabetic medication, missing meals, sudden increases in exercise amounts, alcohol abuse, neuropathy, and malabsorption.
    • Common symptoms: Headache, nausea, sweating, trembling, hunger, anxiety, confusion, drowsiness, incoordination and heart palpitations.
    • Hypoglycemic conditions need to be recognized quickly and treated right away. Call a medical professional right away!
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis is a major medical emergency. Call a medical professional right away. It typically occurs in type 1 diabetics. The lack of insulin and an increase in catabolic hormones lead to the production of glucose and ketone bodies (acidic waste by-products) by the liver.
    • Key features: hyperglycemia, hyperketonemia, metabolic acidosis.
    • Hyperglycemia leads to osmotic diuresis resulting in dehydration and loss of key electrolytes (sodium, chloride, potassium).
    • Marked contraction of extracellular fluid space, resulting in decreased blood pressure which can lead to renal ischemia.
    • Complications of diabetic ketoacidosis: cerebral edema, circulatory failure, acute respiratory distress syndrome and disseminated intravascular coagulation.
    • Infections, stress and trauma often precipitate ketoacidosis in type 1 diabetics.
  • Hyperglycemic Non-Ketotic Hyperosmolar Diabetic Syndrome (HHNS): A condition in which blood sugar levels are alarmingly high (>50 mmol/l). Severe dehydration and uremia often lead to seizures, comas and death.
  • Lactic Acidosis: Often caused by overdose of the diabetic medication metformin.
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This information is not a substitute for your doctor's medical advice.