Overview of Diabetes Complications
Overview of Diabetes Complications
What complications are linked to
Complications linked to diabetes
Heart disease. This is often
caused by an extra buildup of plaque on the inner wall of a blood vessel
(atherosclerosis). The plaque buildup limits blood flow. Heart attack and stroke
are twice as likely in people with diabetes than people without diabetes. Besides
high blood sugar (glucose), the other things that raise the risk for heart disease
include smoking, high blood pressure, diabetic kidney disease, and high
High blood pressure. This
affects as many as 2 out of 3 people with diabetes. It greatly raises the risk for
diabetes-related complications. This includes heart attack, stroke, kidney
failure, and blindness.
Dental disease. Gum
(periodontal) disease affects about 22% of people with diabetes.
Eye disease or blindness
(retinopathy or glaucoma).
Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases
of blindness among adults between ages 20 and 74. Besides high blood sugar, the
other things that raise the risk for blindness from diabetes include smoking, high
blood pressure, and diabetic kidney disease. People with diabetes have a higher
risk of having glaucoma and cataracts. They are also more likely to get them at a
Kidney and urinary tract disease
Diabetes is a main risk factor for end-stage renal disease
(ESRD). People with this condition need dialysis or a kidney transplant in order
to live. Besides high blood sugar, the other things that raise the risk for kidney
failure from diabetes include smoking, high blood pressure, and some medicines,
such as pain relievers.
Nerve disease (neuropathy).
About half of all people with diabetes have some form of nerve damage. This
can cause disabling pain that needs to be treated with medicines. Severe forms of
diabetic nerve disease are the major reason for lower-leg amputations.
Amputation. Many lower-limb
amputations in the U.S. that are not from an injury happen among people with
diabetes. Besides high blood sugar, the other things that raise the risk for
amputation include smoking, high blood pressure, diabetic kidney disease, high
cholesterol, and foot injuries.
Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).
DKA is one of the most serious outcomes of diabetes that is not well
controlled. It mainly happens in people with type 1 diabetes. DKA is marked by
high blood sugar levels. It's also marked by ketones in the urine and blood.
Erectile dysfunction (ED).This is when a man can't
have or keep an erection. It occurs when the blood vessels and the nerves in the
penis are damaged. Vascular disease is one of the main causes of ED in men with
diabetes. ED can also occur as a side effect of certain medicines. It can also happen
because of other conditions that affect the prostate gland or bladder. It can also
from certain lifestyle choices, such as smoking and being overweight. Or from
emotioTnal factors, such as stress and anxiety.
Peripheral artery disease. Diabetes and high blood pressure are just 2 of the
common causes of blockages by plaque in arteries in your arms and legs. Sometimes
surgery is needed to either remove or bypass these blockages. This is done to restore
blood supply to the feet to fight off infection.
What can prevent diabetes complications?
People with diabetes must stay
alert for symptoms that can lead to complications. The best way to do this is to:
Get regular checkups. Finding problems early is the best way to keep complications
from becoming serious.
Keep appointments with your
healthcare provider. Do this even when you are feeling well
Be aware of symptoms and
warning signs. These include vision problems (blurriness, spots), extreme
tiredness (fatigue), pale skin color, obesity (more than 20 pounds overweight),
numbness or tingling feelings in hands or feet, repeated infections or slow
healing of wounds, chest pain, vaginal itching, or constant headaches.
Check your blood sugar levels
several times a day, as directed by your healthcare provider
Control your weight.
Eat a healthy, well-balanced
Get regular exercise.
Check your feet every day for
even minor cuts or blisters.
Take medicines as prescribed
to control high blood pressure and cholesterol. Talk with your healthcare provide
to be sure you are not taking medicines that can harm your kidneys.
Online Medical Reviewer: Robert Hurd MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed:
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