First let me explain the difference between acute and
chronic. Acute complications are when something happens suddenly. The
body doesn’t have time to adjust to the changes and a person suddenly
feels very sick with multiple symptoms. Chronic complications are when
something happens gradually over time. When this happens the body has
time to make adjustments and a person may only have mild symptoms or
possibly none at all. The problem with chronic conditions is that when
something adds the extra stress on your body you don’t have much reserve
to fight it.
Acute complications of diabetes
are severe and can lead to coma. They are directly related to blood
glucose levels and include: Diabetic ketoacidosis, this more common in
Type I diabetes and is caused by the breakdown of fatty acids into
ketones when there is not enough glucose stored in the cells for energy;
Hyperglycemic Hyperosmolar Non-Ketotic Syndrome (HHNS) usually
associated with insulin deficiency and dehydration; and hypoglycemia due
to too much insulin/oral medication is used or too little glucose. All
three of these conditions are emergencies and failure to treat quickly
can lead to coma and/or death.
Chronic complications of diabetes
involve changes in blood vessels, tissues and organs. Consistently high
blood glucose levels can cause a hardening and thickening of the blood
vessels which can lead to many other diseases. Cardiovascular disease
involves both the large and small blood vessels that supply blood to
your heart. Cerebrovascular disease involves the blood vessels that
supply oxygen and nutrients to your brain. Diabetic Retinopathy is
caused by a blockage of blood vessels within the eye that leads to the
blood vessels leaking into the retina. This eventually leads to
Pathological changes within the kidneys can lead to
Diabetic Nephropathy or Kidney Failure. Diabetes Mellitus is the number
one cause of kidney failure and develops in 40 to 50% of all diabetics.
It is also the most common cause of death in Type I diabetics.
can also cause damage the peripheral nervous system (arms & legs)
causing Diabetic Neuropathy. This leads to loss of nerve function that
either results in constant pain or loss of feeling. Erectile Dysfunction
is also a chronic condition associated with diabetes. Causes are a
combination of vascular and neurological damage.