What are the possible complications of diabetes?


Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, your disease puts you at high risk for complications . Blood sugar imbalances take a toll on your body and can cause  serious damage to cells , affecting various organs

There are two types of consequences:

  • Micro vascular complications

Chronic hyperglycemia in diabetics gradually damages the  small blood vessels in the kidneys and eyes as well as the nerves , causing eye, nervous and kidney problems. The vessels get clogged and, if some parts of our body are not getting enough water, they can die. The permanent excess of sugar in the blood therefore causes complications such as blindness ,  renal failure , neuropathy (damage to the nerves) of the legs which can cause ” plantain perforating ailments ” or even damage to the nerves controlling the sex .

  • Macro-vascular complications

Other parameters, such as blood sugar can impact the  arteries and thus affect the carotids, coronaries or arteries in the legs. Consequences: the patient risks stroke, heart attack or arteritis .

Kidney complications

Diabetes is the number one cause of kidney failure . The disease can alter the lining of the kidneys, causing  kidney patency which can lead to albumin in the urine. It is nephropathy . If left untreated, it will get worse, even letting protein pass through the urine, which can ultimately lead to kidney failure .

Arterial and cardiac complications

As we explained above, diabetes alters the arteries with major risks for cardiovascular health . Especially since this disease is often associated with an  excess of blood triglycerides , obesity, high blood pressure or even a sedentary lifestyle with the consequence of the  risk of atherosclerosis . Also, when all the “great vessels” are affected, it  is macroangiopathy . Understand that the arteries supplying the heart, but also the legs or the brain of the patient are affected.

When the “large arteries” are affected (coronary arteries ), the person is at risk of myocardial infarction. In the case of vascular involvement, macroangiopathy can lead to arteritis of the lower limbs – an even greater risk if they smoke heavily. And, if it reaches the brain, it’s stroke guaranteed.

Nerve complications

Among the chronic complications of diabetes are nervous problems . Indeed, excess sugar in the blood disrupts the nerves both in their function and in their structure. Results:

  • The person may develop insensitivity to heat, as well as to pain . This is called  distal and symmetrical neuropathy .
  • There is a risk of mononeuritis which can lead to facial paralysis or double vision.
  • Finally, if the autonomic nervous system is affected, the person may suffer from  digestive disorders or bladder and  heart problems .

Damage to the nerves is also the cause of complications in the feet and eyes.

Ophthalmological complications

Among the complications of diabetes,  eye involvement  is one of the most well-known. And for good reason,  diabetic retinopathy  concerns nearly half of diabetics.

If the small blood vessels carrying blood to the retina are damaged, it can create  microaneurysms which, if they burst, will swell the retina and create deposits of material, causing visual disturbances . And, in the most severe cases, if scar tissue forms, the retina can break off and that’s  blindness .

Other major ophthalmologic complications include  cataracts  and macular edema .

Foot damage

The feet of diabetics are fragile , especially when suffering from neuropathy. Poorly treated wounds or plantar perforating disease (chronic foot ulcer) can lead to abscesses or even  gangrene  and require  amputation .


Bacteria “like” sugar. As a result,  diabetes promotes infections and sufferers are more susceptible than average to  skin, gynecological and oral infections – especially as the saliva is sweet.

Dental problems

In addition to oral infections, diabetics can suffer from a dry mouth , a side effect of many anti-diabetic drugs, which can lead to the appearance of  lesions on the gum , a  yeast infection or an ulcer in the mouth. .

If these lesions do not heal well, especially due to the lack of oxygen reaching the blood capillaries of the gums,  periodontitis is guaranteed. The teeth move, come loose and risk falling out.

Sexual disorders

In addition to gynecological infections, which are more numerous in people with diabetes, women are more prone to  urinary tract infections , vaginal yeast infections and vaginal dryness; while men suffer from erectile dysfunction much more frequently . The causes: a possible lack of muscle tone, the side effects of certain drugs, but above all diabetic neuropathy which decreases sensitivity and therefore arousal during intercourse , and consequently erection and desire.

Sleep disorders

Diabetes can be a cause of impaired sleep through:

  • Of nocturnal hypoglycemia can cause nighttime awakenings,
  • The polyuria induced disease (frequent urination)
  • Of musculoskeletal pain ,
  • The restless legs syndrome may result of neuropathy,
  • The  diabetic retinopathy , which can cause dysregulation of circadian rhythms or
  • Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, which particularly affects people with diabetes.

Psychological difficulties

Diabetes is a heavy and constraining pathology on a daily basis. Especially since, if the disease can be cured, it cannot be cured . People with diabetes are therefore more affected than average by psychological disorders such as depression , anxiety or even  nervous fatigue .

Joint complications

Less known than others, joint complications are common in people with diabetes. At issue: chronic hyperglycemia alters collagen , a protein molecule that contributes to joint well-being. Among the most common disorders are  diabetic cheiro-arthropathy , carpal tunnel syndrome, dupuytren disease, trigger finger and tendonitis. Other complications are also possible such as shoulder-hand syndrome and gout attack.

Diabetes linked to mental decline

Another good reason to keep your body healthy! Diabetes and high blood pressure often associated with problems of physical inactivity are now linked to a rapid decrease in cognitive abilities .

This discovery, published in the journal Neurology, is based on the estimation of the mental capacities of 10,963 people aged 47 to 70 years six years apart. The results show a mental decline in all participants but in patients with high blood pressure and diabetes the decrease is much greater.

Diabetes would have a harmful influence whatever the age, while arterial hypertension seems to initiate its harmful action only from the age of 58 .

Smoking and high cholesterol, however, do not seem to influence the future of our mental capacities.

Researchers believe that diabetes and high blood pressure could, but not be the cause, make people more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease .

Acute complications

The acute complications of type 1 diabetes are sometimes malaise or comas due to hyperglycemia and more rarely from ketoacidosis , due respectively to uninjected or poorly dosed insulin.

  • The ketoacidosis occurs when the body can not at all use glucose as fuel (sugar enters more in because of the absence of insulin cells). The cells then attack the fats, causing their abnormally massive degradation into ketone bodies, toxic waste for the body. Left untreated, ketoacidosis progresses to  coma and death .
  • The hypoglycemia , accident far the most common, can cause a slight discomfort, but not treated, it can also lead to coma with irreversible neurological sequelae .
  • The hyper-osmolar coma , a rare accident occurs especially in subjects over 60 years following a  strong dehydration during infection, diarrhea or taking diuretics . The blood sugar is then very high and the hospitalization is immediate. Mortality is heavy (50% of cases) and occurs by a sudden drop in blood pressure despite emergency insulin treatment.