12 Complications of Diabetes
- 12 Complications of DiabetesFrom your eyes down to your toes and from your skin inward to your organs, diabetes can cause health problems all over your body. Keeping your blood sugar under control can prevent many of these complications. Some treatments may also reduce their effects, especially if you catch the problems early.
- 1. Autonomic NeuropathyHigh blood sugar can damage the nerves that control your body’s internal processes. As a result, your digestive, urinary, and cardiovascular systems may not work properly. You may sweat more than before or stop sweating altogether. And your sexual organs may be affected, making intimacy difficult.
- 2. Peripheral NeuropathyDiabetes-related damage often strikes the nerves that relay signals between your brain and your body. As a result, your hands and feet may feel tingly or numb. Or you may have severe pain at the slightest touch, or feel unexplained sensations of touch, heat, or cold.
- 4. Diabetic RetinopathyDiabetes can damage your retina, the light-sensitive layer at the back of your eye. Your blood vessels may swell and leak fluid, severely impairing your vision. Without treatment, abnormal new retinal blood vessels form, causing more severe and sometimes permanent harm to your sight. Regular eye exams can detect retinopathy early, when it’s most treatable.
- 5. Foot Ulcers
- 6. Hearing LossSound travels to your brain through tiny nerves in your ears. Uncontrolled blood sugar damages the small vessels that support these structures. As a result, hearing loss occurs twice as often in people with diabetes and 30 percent more often in people with pre-diabetes compared to people with normal blood sugar.
- 7. Gum DiseaseSevere gum disease, called periodontitis, causes your gums to pull away from your teeth. The resulting pockets may fill with germs and pus, further harming your health and potentially requiring surgery. High blood sugar slows healing and feeds the bacteria that cause gum infections.
- 8. Other Oral ProblemsDiabetes dries out your mouth, triggering soreness, infections, ulcers, and cavities. You’re also at greater risk for thrush. This yeast infection causes white patches in your mouth and may spread to your esophagus, making swallowing difficult or painful. You’ll need treatment with antifungal medications.
- 9. GlaucomaThis serious, vision-stealing eye disease occurs when pressure builds up in the eye. Over time, the pressure irreversibly damages your retina and optic nerve. People with diabetes are 40 percent more likely to develop glaucoma than people without. Your risk also increases with age.
- 10. GastroparesisNerve damage can strike your stomach and intestines, slowing down or stopping your digestive process. Symptoms such as heartburn, nausea, vomiting, and bloating often follow. What’s more, this delay in digestion can cause your blood sugar to rise and fall sharply. Taking medications or eating smaller, more frequent meals can help.
- 11. Kidney DiseaseEach kidney contains about 1 million tiny filters called glomeruli. Over a period of years, high blood sugar destroys these structures, decreasing your kidneys’ ability to remove toxins from your blood. Diabetes accounts for nearly half of all new cases of kidney failure. High blood pressure further increases your risk.
- 12. Skin ComplicationsDiabetes can leave your skin dry, itchy, cracked, or infected. And several skin diseases occur almost exclusively in people with diabetes. One, diabetic dermopathy, causes light brown scaly patches to form, usually on your legs. Another, acanthosis nigricans, leaves dark brown velvety spots on your neck, armpits, or groin.
12 Complications of Diabetes