Preventing complications - Diabeter
It is never an easy topic, but it is important to discuss: complication in type 1 diabetes. Knowledge about it is important in continuing to take good care of yourself when you have type 1 diabetes. We know better than anyone that this is not an easy task.
Type 1 diabetes can have serious health consequences and cannot (yet) be cured. Severe hypo's or hypers can be life threatening in the short term. Having too high a blood sugar for years can lead to very serious complications. So it is very important to commit to maintaining good health and preventing complications. Especially in children and young adults, who have a whole life ahead of them. But also in our adult patients, the emphasis is on optimal diabetes regulation.
Glucose levels that are too high for years accelerate the aging of blood vessels. They then narrow, as fats in the blood stick to the walls. The blood flow deteriorates, so that the organs receive less blood and thus less oxygen. The eyes (the retina), kidneys and nerves suffer the most from this, because they are most dependent on a good blood flow from the small vessels.
Below are the complications that you are regularly screened for. Your eyes are checked annually (after you have had type 1 diabetes for five years), your urine is checked for the presence of proteins, and we measure your blood pressure at every visit.
One in three current adults with type 1 diabetes eventually develops the disease nephropathy, which slowly attacks the kidneys. Eventually, this can lead to kidney failure.
More than one in five adults will experience neuropathy, impairment of the nerves. These people experience decreased sensation, weakness and sometimes pain in legs and arms. Other symptoms include tingling, sweating, and reduced balance. Getting plenty of exercise helps prevent neuropathy.
Retinopathy is a disease in which the small blood vessels in the retina become damaged. This causes scarring of the retina. As a result, the patient's vision deteriorates and may even become blind without treatment. Almost all adults who have had type 1 diabetes for more than twenty years are affected by retinopathy to a greater or lesser degree.
Not only the smallest blood vessels are damaged by moderate and poorly controlled diabetes. Large blood vessels and the heart itself (the coronary arteries) can also be damaged. Heart attacks and brain hemorrhages are especially feared complications. High glucose levels are not the only factors, but unfortunately they do contribute to the risk of cardiovascular disease. By living a healthy life, i.e. exercising a lot and eating a healthy (low-fat) diet, and by having the best possible glucose control, you can limit the risks.
Preventing diabetes complications
In all these cases, prevention is better than cure. Complications in type 1 diabetes still too often cause daily problems, but also long-term complications. Complications that have a major impact on the quality of life and life expectancy of someone with diabetes. Fortunately, there is a great deal that can be done to prevent this.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of our patients, our treatment teams and the increasing technology within type 1 diabetes care, preventing serious complications is becoming more and more realistic. At Diabeter we do this by using these new technologies and knowledge from scientific research. We combine this knowledge and technology with personalized care and attention. In this way, together with (the parents of) our patients, we can achieve that they suffer as few complications as possible. And we are good at it, just look at our outcomes!