What are the Short-Term Complications of Diabetes?
Aside from preparing for the long term complications of diabetes mellitus, patients should also look out for the short-term consequences that are caused by this disease. This is because these effects, despite affecting the patient only for a short time, may trigger other complications that may cause discomfort to the diabetic. However, the individual might or might not experience all the short-term complications. Some of these short-term conditions include hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia and ketoacidosis. Patients suffering from these conditions must be given immediate proper medical attention or be brought to a hospital to avoid further unwanted complications. The said short-term diabetes complications can be very serious and may even cause death to the patient.
Hyperglycemia, also known in non-technical language as high blood sugar, occurs when the amount of glucose in the patient’s blood stream exceeds the level considered safe for a healthy individual. When the diabetic’s blood glucose levels reach 10+ mmol / l (180 mg / dl), they must be immediately given appropriate treatments or medications; otherwise, this condition may, in some cases, be fatal if not treated. Usually, symptoms of this condition will not be that noticeable unless the level of glucose in the patient’s blood reaches 15 – 20 mmol / l (270 – 360 mg / dl). Hyperglycemia, if it goes undetected for a longer period, can cause organ damage to the patient, especially when the amount of blood sugar exceeds 7 mmol / l (125 mg / dl). This is why the diabetic needs to monitor his or her own blood sugar level from time to time, because if they wait for the symptoms of hyperglycemia, it might already be too late.
Hypoglycemia, on the other hand, is condition wherein the patient experiences extremely low blood sugar levels. Also known as “hypo”, this kind of short-term complication happens when the amount of glucose present in the patient’s blood stream falls below 4 mmol / l. Just like hyperglycemia, this condition may be fatal if it goes untreated. Patients suffering from insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (or type 1 diabetes) are the ones who commonly experience hypoglycemia. This may arise from situations when the blood glucose of the patient, upon receiving insulin treatments, falls sharply. Aside from excessive amount of insulin, experts also consider stress as one of the factors that cause the patient to suffer from hypoglycemia. Diabetics should look out for hypoglycemic symptoms such as palpitation and excessive sweating, weakness, intense hunger, irritability / anxiety, dizziness or headache, high pulse rate, mental confusion and diplopia (double vision).
Another short-term complication of diabetes is ketoacidosis. This condition appears when the body produces an acid called ketone when the body burns fat. This acidic by-product can be harmful to an individual when there is too much of it present in the blood stream. Among diabetics, due to the lack of sufficient glucose in the blood stream, the body is forced to find another source of nourishment to replenish the energy used up the cells. In this case, the body burns stored fat as the source of energy. Thus, ketones are produced.
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