Over time, diabetes can cause damage to the body’s organs, blood vessels and nerves. You can reduce your risk of developing complications with the help of your healthcare team.
Diabetes-related complications occur because of prolonged or persistent high blood glucose levels, often together with high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Managing your diabetes is vitally important for your long-term good health.
What are the most common complications?
Complications may occur to the large and small blood vessels of the body.
Damage that affects the large blood vessels is called macrovascular complications. This may lead to heart attack, stroke or circulation problems in the lower limbs.
Damage that affects the small blood vessels is called microvascular complications. This may lead to problems with kidneys, eyes, feet and nerves, as well as the teeth and gums, intestines, sexual organs and skin.
For more information go to About Diabetes – Complications
Another impact of diabetes can be on your emotional health and wellbeing.
As this is such an important aspect of your care it is covered in more detail in: Emotional wellbeing
How can I prevent or manage complications?
Working with a health care team who understands you and your needs is vital.
There are a number of checks that can guide you and your doctor, such as the NDSS ‘Annual Cycle of Care’.
Having regular check ups will help to detect signs of complications early and a treatment plan can then be put into place.
Information sheet: Annual Cycle of Care
Tips for staying well
- Use the Annual Cycle of Care checklist
- Make healthy food choices, see a dietitian
- Be physically active, keep moving
- Maintain a healthy weight for you
- Quit smoking
- Self-monitor your blood glucose levels (Ask your doctor whether this is appropriate for you, as sometimes regular HbA1C blood tests will provide your doctor with enough information.)
- Manage your blood pressure, blood cholesterol and triglycerides in the range that is recommended for you (Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure every visit and ensure you understand any medications prescribed for you.)