high cholesterol

Dealing with diabetes complications

My husband is a diabetic, and I would like to know how long it takes before diabetes affects your liver? Should I be worrying about him?” Alicia Greenway.

Dear Alicia,

You’re wise to think about steps to protect your husband’s liver – diabetes is a lifelong condition that affects the liver and vice versa. Being informed is the first step towards ensuring good liver health. Those with diabetes are at higher risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition in which extra fat builds up in the liver even if you drink little or no alcohol. Other medical conditions related to diabetes — including obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure — also raise the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Diabetes does not cause fatty liver disease, but the two tend to occur in the same people because the same conditions cause both problems.

Diabetic-related liver disease can be largely prevented. Good control of blood sugar, maintaining a healthy weight, and having regular check-ups to monitor the effects of medication can help reduce the risk of liver problems.

Strategies for protection against fatty liver disease include:

  • Working with your health care team towards good control of your blood sugar.
  • Losing weight if necessary, and trying to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Taking steps to reduce high blood pressure.
  • Keeping your cholesterol within recommended limits.
  • Not drinking too much alcohol.

Then, let’s talk about worry. “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” Leo Buscaglia.

Having a partner with diabetes puts unique strains on a relationship, but it can also bring you closer together if you learn how to work together. Here are some golden rules for rising to the challenge of managing a chronic disease like diabetes:

  • Get educated
  • Communicate
  • Listen
  • Set shared goals
  • Make room for negative emotions
  • Get support from others
  • Commit to nurturing your relationship.

You can do it if you work together.

– Jeannie Berg, Diabetes Educator