It’s Complicated: 5 Complications Caused by Diabetes and How to Prevent Them

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When you hear the word “diabetes,” your first thought is probably about having high blood sugar. And, if you’ve diagnosed with diabetes, you have to make significant lifestyle changes to keep your blood sugar under control.

If you don’t make an effort at controlling your diabetes, you set yourself up for a variety of complications, some of which could lead to more severe conditions. Diabetics have a higher risk of developing health problems, including:

Eye Complications

People with diabetes have a higher risk of eye problems than people without diabetes. Some eye complications caused by diabetes include:

  • Cataracts: Diabetics often get cataracts at a younger age and have them progress more quickly.
  • Glaucoma: A pressure that builds up in the eye pinches the blood vessels that carry blood to the optic nerve and retina, causing gradual blindness.

To keep eye problems from worsening, make sure to have regular checkups with your eye doctor. When you do get a major eye complication, ask your doctor for treatment options, such as drugs and surgery.

Kidney Disease

Diabetes can damage the kidneys, causing them to lose their ability to remove waste products from the blood. If kidney disease is diagnosed early, several treatments can prevent it from progressing.

Symptoms of kidney disease include poor appetite, loss of sleep, upset stomach, and difficulty in concentrating. Other symptoms won’t appear until almost all kidney functions are gone. See a doctor regularly and have your blood and urine tested to monitor the status of your kidney.

You can prevent diabetic kidney disease by getting regular exercise, minimizing salt in your diet, and avoiding alcohol and tobacco. Blood pressure drugs called ACE inhibitors help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of kidney disease.


Almost 50% of people with diabetes have some form of neuropathy or nerve damage. The most common condition is peripheral neuropathy, in which you experience tingling, numbness, pain, or weakness in your hands and feet. Other types of neuropathy affect the bladder, genitals, intestinal tract, and other organs.

According to a study by the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, it’s challenging to diagnose neuropathy because of the various symptoms and body parts affected. If you suspect nerve damage, head to a neuropathy center for some tests.

To prevent neuropathy, keep your blood sugar levels at target range through medications, meal planning, and physical activity.

Skin Complications

Skin complications

Having occasional skin conditions is quite normal, but people with diabetes are more prone to them. Common conditions include dry skin, fungal infection, itching. Other problems like eruptive xanthomatosis, lipoidica diabeticorum and necrobiosis happen mostly or only to people with diabetes.

Proper skincare is the key to preventing skin problems. Manage your dry skin by using standard skin lotion and avoiding scalding baths and showers. Don’t scratch dry or itchy skin and treat wounds right away to prevent infection.

DKA and Ketones

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) happens when high levels of ketones poison your body. When your cells don’t get the required amounts of glucose for energy, the body to burns fat for energy and produces more ketones, in effect.

DKA’s symptoms include:

  • Constant fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dry or flushed skin
  • Frequent urination
  • High glucose levels
  • High levels of ketones in the urine
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Thirst or a parched mouth

DKA is a serious condition, so contact your health provider immediately if you experience the symptoms above. You can mitigate the risk of DKA through lifestyle changes like regular exercise and a change in diet.
Diabetes on its own is a serious condition that leads to complications that result in other health problems. It may be a challenge to control your diabetes at first, but when you do, the results are worth it.

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