Diabetes - Complications and Treatment
Health Education

Diabetes - Complications and Treatment

Authored by DesiMD Doctor on 19 Mar 2013 - 15:48.

In this article we provide basic information on the treatment of Diabetes and the complications that could arise if not properly addressed. Please refer to part 1 for introduction and diagnosis.

How can you treat Diabetes?

At this point there is no cure for Diabetes. Treatment includes diet, exercise, medications and insulin. Fortunately, changing diet can control sugars and can also cut your risk of complications. People with type 2 diabetes should carefully monitor carbohydrate consumption and fat consumption and reduce calorie intake.  Carbohydrates like sugars, sweets, rice, breads and potatoes can increase sugar levels. Ask your doctor for a referral to a dietician to help you with healthy choices and an eating plan that will work for you.
Exercising for 30 minutes a day, 5 days/ week also improves sugars.

What happens if you don’t control your sugars or don’t treat Diabetes?
Emergency complications include:

  • Diabetic coma – When sugar levels are very high in a very dehydrated person, it can affect consciousness and cause coma.
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis – happens mostly in Type1 diabetics when they do not have enough insulin. Ketones build up in body cause life threatening condition.

Long term complications

Diabetes can affect lot of important organs over time and cause long term complications:

  • Eyes:Trouble with vision (especially at night) and sensitivity to light. This could also result in blindness
  • Blood vessels: Can cause hardening and blockage of arteries affecting circulation in legs, heart, brain.
  • Heart: increases your cholesterol and increases your risk of heart attacks, enlarged heart.
  • Brain: increases your risk for strokes and can also cause memory problems
  • Skin: sores and infections are difficult to heal. After a long time if infection continues to worsen, foot or leg may need to be removed. Infection can also cause pain and itching in other parts of the body.
  • Nerves: cause damage to nerves can cause pain, tingling sensations, sensations of pins and needles and a loss of feeling. The damage is not reversible but treatments may help to deal with the pain. Due to nerve problems, patients could have problems digesting the food they eat. One can experience weakness or have trouble even passing urine. Nerve damage can make it difficult for men to have an erection.
  • Kidneys: Kidneys might not work as well and they may even stop working. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney damage.

When sugar cannot be sufficiently controlled with diet and exercise, medication may be added. There are different types of diabetes pills. Some work by increasing insulin secretion by stimulating pancreas, others improve the effectiveness of insulin and some block the digestion of starches.


You might be prescribed insulin if you have Type 1 diabetes. Insulin is also used in people with type 2 diabetes along with pills when they develop “beta-cell failure.” ie. the cells in the pancreas cannot make enough insulin in response to high blood sugar levels any longer.

Many new drugs are available. Symlin, Byetta and Victoza are non-insulin injectable drugs. Whereas insulin pulls glucose into the cells, these medications cause the body to release insulin to control blood sugar levels and also controls how food is emptied from stomach. They have helped people lose weight as well.


80 percent of type 2 diabetes can be prevented by changing diet, increasing exercise and improving the living environment. There is no prevention for Type 1 Diabetes. To prevent complications from developing due to diabetes, it is imperative that you visit your doctor or your diabetologist at least four times a year and talk to them about your problems.

*Disclaimer This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.