Barbara Resnick: Hi! I am Barbara Resnick, President in the American Geriatrics Society. Today I will be discussing complications of diabetes and ways to prevent them. Over time, high levels of sugar in your blood stream can damage your nerves and the small blood vessels in your heart, kidneys, and eyes. This puts you at greater risk for vision problems or blindness and for developing heart and kidney problems. Symptoms or signs of serious health conditions that are caused by diabetes include heart disease, blood vessel problems such as the narrowing of arteries. Nerve problems like a burning, tingling or numbness in your hands or feet, foot problems, vision problems, kidney problems, and erectile dysfunction.
Preventing and managing factors for heart disease in adults with diabetes is especially important. Because heart problems are so common with diabetes, your healthcare provider will check for other conditions and behaviors that can also cause heart trouble, things like smoking, being overweight, high cholesterol, high blood pressure or simply a family history. To decrease your risk of heart problems, you may need to lose weight, increase your physical activity or quit smoking. Since diabetes can cause blood vessel and circulation problems, you are at high risk for serious foot problems that unfortunately can sometimes lead to imputation. Taking excellent care of your feet is a vital part of diabetes management. Your healthcare provider should examine your feet at least once a year, and you should examine your feet daily. Tell your healthcare provider right away about any changes to your feet or signs of damage including sores or discolored toes. You must also take good care of your toe nails to prevent foot infections. Ask your healthcare provider to refer you to a foot doctor or a podiatrist, especially if it's hard for you to take care of your toe nails yourself. The blood vessel and circulation problems associated with diabetes can affect your eyes. Have a thorough examination by an eye doctor every year or as often as recommended. Because diabetes can cause serious health issues, you will need to take good care of yourself and talk to your healthcare provider right away if you experience any of these problems.
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