Diabetes is a disease that affects all organs in the body, which is funny because as a diabetic, I don’t really feel this way. In fact, I often feel like I’m the only person in the world with a disease that affects all my organs. Yes, I’m a diabetic, and yes, I have Kidney disease, but I also have a heart condition, I’m a little overweight, I have high cholesterol, I’m a woman, and I’m a mom. I’m lucky enough to have an awesome husband and supportive family who are with me through every step of my journey.
There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. These are the most common forms, but they are not the only types. If you have a close relative with type 2, you are more likely to have the disease too. If you have known diabetes, you are more likely to develop complications, too.
Here is an overview of the complications of diabetes that can occur in all organs of the body.. Read more about long-term complications of diabetes and let us know what you think.
Type 2 diabetes is inadequately treated, and it affects every organ in the body.
Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) is a symptom of diabetes, although it is not the cause of most of the morbidity (damage caused by the disease). Although medicine may help manage blood sugar levels, it does not prevent long-term problems. Damage happens in virtually every organ system despite blood sugar management.
There isn’t a single organ system in the body that isn’t impacted by diabetes. Microvascular (small blood vessels) and macrovascular (big blood vessels) problems are the two types of complications (large blood vessels).
Small blood arteries provide blood to certain organs, such as B. the eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Organ failure is caused by chronic injury to these tiny blood arteries. Atherosclerotic plaque is a constriction of the bigger blood arteries caused by damage. When this plaque breaks down, it triggers an inflammatory reaction as well as blood clots, which may result in heart attacks and strokes. When blood flow in the legs is obstructed, gangrene may develop as a consequence of a lack of oxygen.
There are certain problems that are difficult to categorize. Blood vessel damage may be caused by a variety of diabetes problems that aren’t immediately apparent. Skin problems, fatty liver, infections, polycystic ovarian syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer are only a few of them.
Complications of the microcirculation
According to the Center for Disease Control, diabetic retinopathy was the primary cause of new blindness in the United States in 2011.
Retinopathy (damage to the retina of the eye) is one of the most frequent consequences of diabetes. The retina is the light-sensitive nerve layer that sends images from the back of the eye to the brain. Diabetes weakens the tiny blood vessels at the rear of the eye over time. Blood and other bodily fluids seep out, causing vision problems. This lesion may be seen with a conventional ophthalmoscope during a typical physical examination. Dot bleeds are caused by retinal bleeding that resemble dots. The lipid accumulation at the hemorrhage’s margins looks like a solid exudate. The retina is the sole area where blood vessel damage can be seen up close and personal.
New blood vessels develop in the retina throughout time, but they are fragile and easily destroyed. Increased bleeding in the eye (vitreous hemorrhage) and/or the development of scar tissue result from the proliferation of new blood vessels. This scar tissue may raise the retina out of its natural position in extreme instances. Blindness may result from retinal detachment. The use of lasers to inhibit the development of new blood vessels is common.
Diabetic retinopathy causes about 10,000 new instances of blindness in the United States each year. Both the length of diabetes and the severity of the illness have a role in the development of retinopathy. Within 20 years after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, the majority of individuals acquire some kind of retinopathy. Retinopathy may occur as early as seven years before type 2 diabetes is diagnosed.
Nephropathy In the United States, diabetic kidney disease (renal disease) is the main cause of end-stage renal disease (ESRD), accounting for 44% of all new cases in 2005. Although ESRD is classified as renal failure needing dialysis or transplantation, many more individuals are diagnosed with chronic kidney disease in a lesser form. Every year, more than 100,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with chronic renal disease. The cost of treating renal illness in the United States was estimated to be about $32 billion in 2005. This responsibility comes at a high price, both financially and emotionally.
One of the kidneys’ primary tasks is to remove poisons from the blood. Toxins build up in the circulation as the kidneys fail, causing loss of appetite, weight loss, continuous nausea and vomiting, and, if left untreated, coma and death.
Dialysis is a treatment that uses artificial means to eliminate toxins from the blood. It’s only utilized when the kidneys have lost more than 90% of their ability to work on their own. Hemodialysis is the most frequent kind of dialysis, in which blood is drawn, cleansed by a dialysis machine, and returned to the patient. Dialysis is usually done three times a week for four hours each time.
Diabetic kidney damage usually occurs between the ages of 15 and 25. Nephropathy, like retinopathy, may develop before type 2 diabetes is diagnosed. The presence of traces of a leaky protein called albumin in the urine is the first indication. Microalbuminuria is the term for this stage. Microalbuminuria affects around 2% of type 2 diabetes patients each year, with a 25% incidence within 10 years after diagnosis. With aging, the quantity of albumin leaked rises inexorably. The kidneys’ purifying function eventually deteriorates, and patients acquire deteriorating renal disease. Dialysis is often needed if kidney function is less than 10% of normal.
Neuropathy Neuropathy (diabetic nerve injury) affects around 60-70 percent of diabetic individuals. Diabetic nerve injury may take many distinct forms. The length and severity of diabetes are linked to the onset of neuropathy once again.
Peripheral neuropathy is the most frequent kind of diabetic neuropathy. The feet are touched first, followed by the hands and arms in a specific pattern of socks and gloves. Among the signs and symptoms are:
Symptoms often worsen at night. Diabetic neuropathy’s chronic discomfort is one of the disease’s most debilitating features. Even powerful medicines, such as B. Narcotics, are often useless.
The lack of symptoms, however, does not rule out the possibility of nerve injury. Patients may feel total numbness in the afflicted regions instead of pain. A comprehensive physical examination reveals a loss of reflexes as well as reduced sensitivity to touch, vibration, and temperature.
The lack of sensitivity may seem to be innocuous, but it is not. Pain serves as a barrier against dangerous damage. Charcot foot is a malformation that develops over time as a result of repetitive trauma. While most individuals make acceptable modifications when their feet ache, diabetics may not be able to avoid these incapacitating episodes. If this continues for a long time, the joint will be ruined.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
is a frequent disease caused by compression of the median nerve that passes through the wrist. Insulin resistance was seen in 80% of individuals with this condition in one investigation. Diabetic muscular atrophy, which is marked by acute discomfort and muscle weakening in the hips, may also affect large muscle groups.
Breathing, digestion, sweating, and heart rate are all regulated by the autonomic nervous system, which is not usually under conscious control. Nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, anhidrosis (lack of sweating), bladder issues, erectile dysfunction, and orthostatic hypotension are all symptoms of nerve injury (a sudden and severe drop in blood pressure while standing). If the heart’s innervation is compromised, the chance of a silent heart attack and mortality increases.
There are currently no therapies that can repair diabetic nerve damage. Medication may help with the symptoms of the illness, but it cannot alter the disease’s natural path. He can only be cautioned in the end.
Diseases of the circulatory system
Atherosclerosis is an artery disease in which fatty plaques form on the inner walls of blood vessels. This causes arteries of all diameters to constrict and stiffen. Diabetic patients are at a higher risk of getting atherosclerosis. Heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral vascular disease are all caused by atherosclerosis of the heart’s, brain’s, and legs’ main blood arteries. These diseases are referred to as cardiovascular disease, and they are the main cause of mortality among diabetics.
Cardiovascular disease is responsible for an order of magnitude more fatalities and disability than microvascular illness. Cholesterol is believed to progressively block arteries, similar to how deposits develop in a pipe. This idea, however, has long been recognized to be incorrect.
Damage to the endothelial lining of an artery causes atherosclerosis. Cholesterol particles are able to penetrate the arterial wall and induce inflammation as a result of this. Smooth muscle growth and collagen buildup occur in reaction to this injury, but this further constricts the blood vessel.
As a consequence, a plaque, also known as an atheroma, forms, which is then covered by a fibrous clot. The underlying atheroma enters the circulation and forms a blood clot if this plug comes free. A thrombus blocks an artery abruptly, preventing normal blood flow and depriving downstream cells of oxygen. Heart attacks and strokes are the result of this.
Atherosclerosis is caused by damage to the arterial wall rather than by a buildup of cholesterol. Age, gender, smoking, exercise, family history, stress, and high blood pressure are all variables that contribute to this issue. One of the most important risk factors for atherosclerosis is diabetes.
Coronary artery disease The most well-known and dreaded consequence of diabetes is heart disease. Diabetic patients are at least two to four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. At a younger age, complications appear. According to the American Heart Association, at least 68% of diabetics aged 65 and older will die from heart disease, while 16% will die from a stroke. Because cardiovascular disease kills more than 80% of individuals with diabetes, preventing macrovascular illness is more important than preventing microvascular issues.
In the 1970s, the Framingham studies found a significant connection between cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Diabetes has become associated with an early heart attack due to the high risk. Diabetes patients are more than three times as likely than non-diabetic patients to have a heart attack. Over the last three decades, treatments have vastly improved, but improvement for diabetes patients has lagged far behind. While the all-cause death rate in men without diabetes dropped by 36.4 percent, it fell by just 13.1 percent in men with diabetes. Women without diabetes had a 27 percent lower death rate, while women with diabetes had a 23 percent higher mortality rate.
Stroke A stroke’s devastation should not be underestimated. It is the third greatest cause of mortality and the top cause of disability in the United States. Diabetes is a significant independent risk factor for stroke, with a 150-400 percent increase in risk. Diabetes patients are thought to account for approximately a quarter of all new strokes. For every year of diabetes, the risk of stroke rises by 3%. Diabetics have a poorer prognosis for stroke than non-diabetics.
Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) is a kind of vascular disease that A blockage in the blood arteries going to the lower limbs causes peripheral vascular disease (PVD). It may also affect the hands and arms, but this is uncommon. The constriction of blood arteries deprives the legs of oxygen-carrying hemoglobin, which they need urgently.
Intermittent claudication is the most frequent symptom, which is discomfort or cramping that occurs during walking and disappears after resting. When blood circulation is compromised, discomfort may occur even when you’re not moving, and it’s particularly frequent at night. Diabetic foot ulcers may form, and in extreme instances, gangrene can occur. Amputation is often required at this point.
The most significant risk factor for developing PVD is diabetes, which is followed by smoking. In approximately 27% of individuals, the illness progresses within 5 years, and amputation occurs in 4%. PVD has a significant impact on movement and may result in long-term impairment. Claudication causes a reduction in movement. Patients with gangrene and those who need amputation may never be able to walk again. This may result in a vicious cycle of incapacity and muscle loss. Pain that is severe and chronic has a negative impact on one’s quality of life.
Other issues to consider
Cancer Type 2 diabetes and obesity are linked to common malignancies. Breast, stomach, colon, kidney, and cervical cancers are among them. This may be related to the usage of certain diabetic medicines. Cancer patients with pre-existing diabetes had a substantially worse survival rate than those without diabetes.
Nails and skin Patients with type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop skin problems. Acanthosis nigricans is a thickening of the skin that is grey-black and velvety, particularly on the neck and body folds. High insulin levels promote the development of keratinocytes, resulting in skin thickening.
Diabetic dermopathy, commonly known as shingles, appears as hyperpigmented, coarsely scaly lesions on the lower limbs. Skin tags are little protrusions of soft skin that often appear on the eyelids, neck, and under the arms. Diabetes affects more than a quarter of individuals with skin tags.
Diabetics often have nail issues, particularly fungal infections. The nails thicken and detach from the nail bed, becoming yellowish brown (onycholysis).
Infections People with diabetes are more vulnerable to all kinds of infections, and they are frequently more severe than those who do not have diabetes. Simple bladder infections are on the rise, as are more serious kidney infections (pyelonephritis). In diabetics, this risk is increased by four or five, and both kidneys are typically affected. Diabetes patients are more likely to have complications such as abscess development and renal papillary necrosis.
In individuals with diabetes mellitus, all kinds of fungal infections are more frequent. Oral thrush, vulvovaginal thrush, nail thrush, and toenail thrush are among them.
Diabetic foot ulcers
are a common complication of diabetes. Except among diabetics, foot infections are uncommon, although they may result in hospitalization, amputation, and long-term disability. Many different bacteria may cause these illnesses, which need the administration of broad-spectrum antibiotics.
Despite good blood glucose management, 15% of diabetics will suffer non-healing foot sores at some point in their lives. Diabetics are 15 times more likely than non-diabetics to have lower limb amputations, accounting for more than half of all amputations in the United States. The financial implications of diabetic foot complications should not be underestimated. Each case is estimated to cost about $25,000 to handle.
Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is a condition that affects men. Impotence is prevalent in ten to fifty percent of males between the ages of 39 and 70, according to community research. Diabetes is a significant risk factor that increases the risk by more than thrice. Diabetics have erectile dysfunction at an earlier age than non-diabetics.
Steatosis of the liver The deposition and accumulation of excess fat in the form of triglycerides that account for more than 5% of the total weight of the liver is known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis occurs when excess fat causes damage to liver tissue that may be identified with a simple blood test (NASH). NASH is projected to be the main cause of liver cirrhosis in North America, so this is no little issue.
Fatty liver disease is very uncommon in people with type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is extremely common, with rates as high as 75%.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a kind of polycystic ova Inconsistent menstrual periods, indications of high testosterone, and the appearance of cysts on ultrasound are all symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance are all features shared by PCOS patients and type 2 diabetes. It is generally regarded as a component of the metabolic syndrome and an early symptom of type 2 diabetes’s insulin resistance.
Alzheimer’s disease is a kind of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological illness that causes memory loss, personality changes, and cognitive impairment over time. It accounts for 60-70 percent of all dementia cases. Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes are becoming more linked. Because of the important function of insulin resistance in the brain, many believe that Alzheimer’s disease may be classed as type 3 diabetes.
Diabetes has an impact on every organ system. Diabetes has the rare malignancy of destroying our whole body. But why is that? Almost all other illnesses are limited to a single organ system. Diabetes has a variety of effects on all organs. It is the leading cause of blindness in the world. It is the most common reason for renal failure. It’s one of the leading causes of heart disease. It’s the most common cause of stroke. It is the most common reason for amputations. It’s the most common cause of dementia. It is the most common reason for infertility. It is by far the most common cause of nerve injury.
Why, centuries after the illness was originally diagnosed, are these issues worsening rather than improving? We believe the problems are the result of hyperglycemia’s harm. But, if new and better medicines to treat high blood sugar are being produced, why aren’t problems increasing? We think that as our understanding of diabetes grows, these rates will decline. However, this is not the case. We are in the middle of a worldwide type 2 diabetes epidemic. Worse, the stakes are increasing rather than decreasing. We must confront the cold, harsh reality that our present course is doomed to failure.
The only logical explanation for things becoming worse is that our knowledge and management of type 2 diabetes are fundamentally wrong. We may run as fast as we want, but we’re going the wrong way. A quick examination of our processing paradigm exposes the issue. Our present treatment paradigm is based on the implicit premise that type 2 diabetes is only harmful when blood sugar levels are high. The goal of drug therapy is to decrease blood sugar levels.
Insulin resistance, on the other hand, is known to induce hyperglycemia in people with type 2 diabetes. Our medicines only treat the symptoms of elevated blood sugar if they don’t address the underlying insulin resistance. The underlying condition (high insulin resistance) remains unaddressed. We have little chance of eliminating this illness until we treat the underlying cause.
Jason Fung, Ph.D.
Why isn’t elevated blood sugar the primary issue?
Drug-induced glucose reduction in T2DM is ineffective.
Insulin resistance in a fresh light
Read our whole guide below to discover more about how to reverse type 2 diabetes with a low-carb diet, as well as how to troubleshoot if you run into problems. You may also use the fast start tutorial, which consists of just two of the most effective and easy steps!
It seems there’s no special organ which is left untouched when diabetes affects it. There are people, who are able to lead a normal life even after learning that they have the disease, and there are also those who experience complications of diabetes. All the complications of diabetes are not detrimental to the life of the person who has it, but the complications are there. Some of the complications of diabetes are:. Read more about organs affected by diabetes and let us know what you think.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does diabetes affect all organs?
Yes, diabetes can affect all organs.
What are the main organs affected by diabetes?
The main organs affected by diabetes are the heart, eyes, kidneys, and nerves.
What are the 5 major systemic complications from diabetes?
The five major systemic complications from diabetes are hyperglycemia, ketoacidosis, diabetic coma, diabetic ketoacidosis, and diabetic neuropathy.