From hearing loss to foot numbness, the complications that result from type 2 diabetes vary as much as the patients. Whether you are a man or a woman, Caucasian or African-American, there are subtle differences in the way the disease progresses. Type 2 diabetes is known to quietly attack various groups of people in slightly different ways.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, affecting millions of people each year. Some groups have a higher risk for developing the disease, including Native Americans, Asian-Americans and Latinos. However, it is India that has developed the world’s largest diabetes population with over 50.8 million people living with diabetes. While India’s government continues to raise awareness to its public, many other countries are facing the widespread epidemic. Scientists are not completely sure what mechanism causes the disease; they do know that it causes the body’s cells to either not produce or ignore insulin, a naturally occurring hormone made by the pancreas. Without insulin, glucose in the body does not properly break down. That leads to diabetes complications. The list of type 2 diabetes complications is a long one and covers all parts of the body, from head to toe:
- Eye complications – Type 2 patients are more at risk for developing glaucoma, cataracts and retina dysfunction.
- Heart disease – This very real risk is especially prevalent in men with diabetes. Type 2 patients are also at a higher risk for a stroke.
- Mental health problems – Many patients go through stages of anger, denial and depression, especially when initially diagnosed.
- Skin disorders – Having diabetes puts patients at an increased risk of getting bacterial and fungal infections, as well as other diabetes-related skin conditions.
- Sexual dysfunction – Men with diabetes are more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction and low testosterone.
- Foot problems – Also called neuropathy, diabetic nerve damage can lessen the ability to feel pain, cold or heat. Neuropathy causes poor blood flow.
From the list, it’s easy to see why it is so important for type 2 patients to be vigilant about their health care. At the initial diagnosis, most doctors will recommend a strict diet, a steady exercise regime and medication to stabilize insulin levels. While a new diet and exercise routine might be difficult to establish, the medication aspect of the process could prove to be even more challenging. That’s because of the lingering safety questions surrounding the most popular type 2 diabetes drug, Actos.
Also known as pioglitazone, Actos has been linked to a variety of life threatening side effects, including congestive heart failure and bladder cancer. The drug is known to cause edema, or swelling, which increases the risk for heart failure. Worse yet, recent studies show that those taking the drug for longer than two years have a more than 80 percent chance of developing bladder cancer. It seems that this drug puts already compromised bodily functions at risk for even more damage. In fact, many users of this medication have filed an Actos lawsuit against the drug manufacturer, Takeda.
Today, many doctors are steering their patients to more trusted medications, such as metformin, as a means to control blood sugar levels. Many feel that the risks that Actos presents are far too great for patients who are already struggling with a life-threatening disease.