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Diabetes can lead to a wide range of seemingly unrelated health problems if not treated properly. If you have diabetes, you are up to five times more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke, and this does not even include factors from other sources, but is related to the intake of fatty and high sugar foods. Prolonged, poorly controlled blood glucose levels increase the likelihood of atherosclerosis. This is where the blood vessels become clogged up and narrowed by fatty substances. This may result in angina, or chest pain, due to a poor blood supply to the coronary arteries of the heart. Again, it also increases the risk of stroke. This would occur when a build-up of fatty substances breaks off of the wall of the artery, flows to the brain and gets clogged due to a natural narrowing of the blood vessels.

Hyperglycaemia can bring about nerve damage, and if the damage is solely to the peripheral nervous system, so not including the brain or spine, it is called peripheral neuropathy. Other complications include damage to the eye, also known as diabetic retinopathy, kidney disease, foot problems and sexual dysfunction.

Eye problems come about due to damage to the retina. This is the light-sensitive part of the eye where rod and cone cells are found and these cells need constant blood supply to function, which is provided by a network of small blood vessels. Having a constantly high blood sugar level affects these blood vessels and causes gradual changes to the person’s vision. There are 3 main stages of retinopathy, ranging from tiny bleeds which do not really affect the vision, to serious, weak scar tissues and blood vessels forming which can result in loss of vision altogther. The key to this is to catch it early, and certain lifestyle changes and treatment can stop further deterioration.

Kidney damage comes about in the form of Chronic Kidney Disease. It is a long-term condition caused by diabetes where the high blood sugar has damaged the filters in the kidney. These filters are called nephrons, and each human kidney contains around 1 million. When these become damaged, the kidneys do not function properly, meaning useful and harmful substances cannot be separated in the blood. The main symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease include tiredness, shortness of breath, swollen ankles feet and hands, dramatic changes in the passing of urine, blood in the urine, and nausea. Medical help must be sought if any of these symptoms present along with an existing diabetic condition.