Type 2 diabetes: Irreversible symptoms include Alzheimer’s disease and blindness

Type 2 diabetes usually goes unnoticed until blood sugar levels rage. When this happens, the body undergoes serious and potentially catastrophic changes. To ward off the threat of serious complications, blood sugar must be controlled.

According to Cheryl Lythgoe, matron at Benenden Health, some of the complications caused by consistently high blood sugar can be “irreversible.”

“Diabetes is currently considered an international pandemic, and having your (glycemic) sugar levels out of control can have serious and irreversible side effects,” Ms Lythgoe warned.

As she explained, diabetes itself (both types 1 and 2) affects the whole body, so there are many complications that come from not maintaining healthy blood sugar control.

Among the most devastating is Alzheimer’s disease – a progressive disease that causes brain shrinkage (atrophy) and brain cell death.

READ MORE: Dementia: does it smell like that? The smelly sign “significantly” associated with the onset of dementia

Other irreversible risks

“The challenge we often have with our vascular (blood) system is that it supplies our entire body, so any damage to small and large vessels will cause problems.”

In fact, Ms Lythgoe said heart disease, heart attacks and strokes are five times more likely to occur in people with poorly controlled diabetes.

About 40% of people with diabetes also develop “nephropathy”, she said.

This is where the kidneys don’t filter as efficiently and may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.

According to the expert, poor glycemic control affects many major organs in the body.

“Unfortunately, it also affects how the body reacts to infection and handles pain.”

She continued: “From the increased risk of non-healing wounds to the increased prevalence of bacterial infection, our body’s ability to fight and clear infection declines with poor glycemic control.

When we combine this with the nerve damage that occurs, preventing us from noticing some common symptoms of infection, we are certainly increasing our risk of becoming very ill.

“To avoid increasing your risk, it’s crucial to maintain healthy glycemic control, which can be accomplished by actively addressing your lifestyle and using medications as prescribed.”

How to answer

According to the NHS, you should see a GP if you have any of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes or are concerned that you have a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes.

“A GP can diagnose diabetes. You will need a blood test, which you may need to take to your local health center if it cannot be done at your GP’s surgery.”

Benenden Health provides high quality private health care at the same affordable cost to everyone.

This includes round-the-clock care, such as 24/7 GP and mental health helplines, as well as quick access to services such as physiotherapy and medical treatments.