Main Complications of Being Diabetic

There are many complications to being diabetic.

Some can seriously compromise your health and quality of life. Others can even lead to death if the blood glucose levels in diabetes are not kept within the normal range or as close as possible to it.

The Main Complications of Being Diabetic

The Main Complications of Being Diabetic

There are several main complications of diabetes which can develop the longer one has diabetes. These include:

  • Wounds that won’t heal
  • Foot issues
  • Yeast infections that keep coming back
  • Kidney problems (diabetic nephropathy)
  • Vision problems (diabetic retinopathy)
  • Tingling or numbness in your hands or feet (diabetic neuropathy)
  • Lack of blood circulation in hands, feet, etc.
  • Amputation, which can lead to blood clots, stroke and death
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Wounds

Wounds on a diabetic take longer to heal. They can also be more prone to infection.

Foot Issues

There are several conditions to watch out for.

Diabetic foot ulcers – What might be a simple blister for a normal person can turn into a serious foot ulcer for a diabetic. Most people with diabetes need to wear special shoes to avoid rubbing.

Calluses – People with diabetes are more prone to calluses but have to be extremely careful about paring them because they are so prone to infection and can take a long time to heal. Anyone who is diabetic should check their feet regularly using a mirror and ideally also see a podiatrist (foot doctor) who has experience in treating diabetic foot conditions.

Char-cot foot – Changes can occur in the bones of the foot as a result of diabetes, particularly diabetic neuropathy, that is, nerve damage.

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Diabetic neuropathy – This is nerve damage to the hands and feet. It is a loss of sensation and often a loss of circulation over time. Loss of sensation can lead to injury that goes unnoticed until it becomes infected.

Amputation – Serious foot issues can lead to amputation of a toe, foot or leg. Amputation can lead to:

  • Infection
  • Other circulatory issues
  • Spread of dead tissue due to gangrene, requiring further amputation
  • Blood clots

and more.

The Main Complications of Being Diabetic

Any amputation will have a significant impact on one’s health and quality of life. Complications can lead to death.

Diabetic Nephropathy

The kidneys help filter waste through the body that is eliminated via urination. Diabetes can damage the kidneys due to high levels of blood sugar, which make the kidneys filter too much blood. The kidneys start to leak, releasing valuable proteins as well as unwanted waste. The kidneys will eventually fail and the person will need dialysis or a transplant to survive.

Not everyone with diabetes develops kidney disease. Keeping blood pressure low and blood sugar under good control is key.

Eye Issues

Poor circulation can lead to the eyes lacking oxygen and therefore being prey to a number of conditions.

Cataracts – Those with diabetes are 60% more likely to have cataracts. This is a film that forms over the lens of the eye, blocking the light. Those who have surgery to remove them are in danger of more complications.

Glaucoma – Those with diabetes are 40% more likely to have glaucoma, an increase in the pressure in the eye. If the pressure is not treated, the retina and optic nerve will be damaged and the person will go blind. High blood pressure will make glaucoma worse.

Diabetic retinopathy – Diabetic retinopathy is a blanket term for changes in the blood vessels in the eyes, which can lead to leakage, damage to vision and eventually blindness if blood glucose levels are not kept under control.


High levels of blood sugar have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. The popular book “Grain Brain” outlines how a diet high in carbohydrates can trigger dementia.

The better your glucose control, the less likely you are to develop serious complications of diabetes.


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