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Uncontrolled diabetes can cause a range of health problems, from itchy skin and rashes to more serious conditions such as kidney failure and nerve damage.
Managing diabetes begins with keeping your blood sugar in check, but there’s more to it than that, says Ginny Ives, R.D., a certified diabetes educator at the Ruth Collins Diabetes Center at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas. Here are four other areas of the body that need attention to help prevent complications.
Eyes. Individuals who have diabetes are more likely to develop glaucoma and cataracts. “To protect your vision, schedule an eye exam annually with an ophthalmologist,” Ives says.
Feet. Because neuropathy, a condition in which nerves are damaged, causes loss of feeling in your feet and can lead to foot ulcers and other concerns, “it’s important to check your feet daily and have a complete foot exam by a physician at least [once] every year,” Ives says.
Heart. “Uncontrolled diabetes harms your heart by causing arteries to clog much more quickly,” Ives says. Keep your heart healthy by keeping blood sugar and blood pressure under control, and cholesterol levels within a healthy range.
Kidneys. Your physician can perform a test to detect early kidney damage from uncontrolled diabetes. “The test is called a urine microalbumin and it should be given at least once a year, if not quarterly,” Ives says. If kidney damage continues, it can lead to kidney failure in which more serious treatment such as dialysis or transplant is needed.
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