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Diabetes: the real culprits

MagazineApril 2003 (Vol. 14 Issue 1)Diabetes: the real culprits

* Common symptoms of type 1 diabetes include:frequent urination white spots (glucose-filled urine) on underwear frequent bladder infections constant thirstfatigue sudden weight losstingling in hands and feetskin infectionsnausea and vomiting

* Common symptoms of type 1 diabetes include:
frequent urination
white spots (glucose-filled urine) on underwear
frequent bladder infections
constant thirst
sudden weight loss
tingling in hands and feet
skin infections
nausea and vomiting.

* Although type 2 diabetes may be symptomless, tell-tale signs include:
increased thirst
increased urination
increased appetite
blurred vision
frequent and/or slow-healing infections
weight loss despite increased appetite
erectile dysfunction in men.

Diabetes can be rapidly fatal if glucose levels are allowed to rise too high. However, if properly controlled, diabetes itself may not be a cause of death; it is the other diseases that come in its wake that lead to premature death. Diabetes doubles the death rate in adults, but the rate climbs steeply the younger the disease takes hold.

* Heart disease: this is the leading cause of diabetes-related deaths, with a fourfold increase in risk; 80 per cent of diabetics will die due to a cardiovascular problem.

* Stroke: this is also up to four times more likely among diabetics.

* Hypertension: 75 per cent of diabetics have high blood pressure, frequently as a result of coronary artery disease.

* Kidney disease: diabetes is the leading cause of severe renal disease, leading to dialysis or transplantation.

* Blindness: diabetes is the chief cause of loss of sight (diabetic retinopathy) in the Western world.

* Nervous system disease: most diabetics have mild-to-severe forms of nervous system damage, including impaired sensation or pain in the feet or hands, slowed digestion of food in the stomach and carpal tunnel syndrome. Poor blood flow may, in extreme cases, lead to amputation of the leg or foot.

* Dental problems: 30 per cent of diabetics have severe gum disease.

* Pregnancy complications: up to 20 per cent of births by diabetic mothers may be miscarriages and, in 5-10 per cent of cases, the fetus may be malformed.

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