Nobody likes thinking about the complications that can occur with type 1. However, awareness of future consequences can actually be a powerful motivator to manage type 1 well today. At the Family Centre, we take a balanced view on complications: we don't dwell on them, but we don't pretend they don't exist either.
Type 1 complications can include eye disease, nerve damage, kidney disease, and heart disease or stroke.
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the walls of the retina (the layer at the back of the eyeball) weaken from high blood glucose or high blood pressure. This can cause small 'leaks' of fluid or blood into the surrounding tissue. Over time and if left untreated, this can progess to impact upon vision. Australia has good screening techniques for diabetic retinopathy and it can often be picked up early, allowing the person to consider secondary prevention measures such as tighter blood glucose management, or treatment options.
Diabetic neuropathy is progressive nerve damage caused by high blood glucose levels. It can lead to loss of sensation or feelings of pain or tingling in the hands and feet. When combined with impaired circulation, which is also associated with high blood glucose levels, diabetic neuropathy can result in complications such as lack of awareness of damage or injury to the feet, and slow wound healing.
Diabetic kidney disease or diabetic nephropathy is a slow deterioration of the kidneys and kidney function which, in more severe cases, can result in kidney failure.
Heart Disease and Stroke
Cardiovascular disease is a range of blood vessel system diseases that includes both stroke and heart attack. People with type 1 are at a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, because high blood glucose impacts upon the vascular systems of the body.