What Are The Side Effects Of Diabetes?

Gunjan Lal
April 24, 2017
Views : 1879
What Are The Side Effects Of Diabetes?

I recently found out that diabetes is one of the top ten leading causes of death in the world, it just goes to show how dangerous this disease is and it shouldn't be taken lightly. So how exactly does this happen? Usually the blood glucose levels in our bodies are controlled and regulated by insulin which is a hormone produced by the pancreas. When the glucose levels in the blood elevates - after eating a delicious meal for instance - the insulin is released from your pancreas to regulate the fluctuating glucose levels by enhancing the uptake of glucose in your body's cells. It has no proper cure and is a chronic medical condition, which means that although it can be kept in check and controlled but it lasts a lifetime.

It can take some hard work to get your diabetes under control, but the results are always worth it. If you do not make an effort to keep diabetes in control, you could set yourself up for a host of complications. This disease can take a major toll on nearly every organ in your body, including your eyes, heart and blood vessels, kidneys, nerves, gums and teeth. Let's dig a little deeper and see how it all can happen.

How does Diabetes Affect Your Heart and Blood Vessels

Heart disease and blood vessel disease are the most common consequences for a ton of people who don't pay heed to having their diabetes under control. A diabetic person is at least twice as likely to develop heart problems and strokes as compared to people who don't have the condition.

Nerve damage or blood vessel damage may also result in foot problems that (in rare cases) can lead to amputations. In such cases, though rare, diabetic patients are ten times likelier to have their legs or feet removed than the ones without the disease.

You might not notice some symptoms and warning signs until you have a stroke or a heart attack. Troubles with large blood vessels in your legs may cause changes in skin color, leg cramps, and a lack of sensation.

You can take a sigh of relief because many studies show that if you control your diabetes carefully can help you bypass these consequences, or stop them from worsening if you have already developed them.

How does Diabetes Affect Your Nerves?

Over a constant period of time, high blood sugar levels can damage your nerves. As many as 70% of diabetic people are prone to this type of damage.

Peripheral diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage or nerve-related condition that can cause pain and burning or a loss of feeling (or numbness) in your feet. It is more likely to begin with your toes. Apart from that, it can also affect your hands and other body parts.

Autonomic neuropathy (another type of medical condition related with nerve) stems from damage to the nerves that control the internal organs. The symptoms of this medical condition include digestive issues (a condition called gastroparesis), sexual problems, , dizziness and fainting, trouble sensing when your bladder is full or not knowing when your blood sugar is low.

The good news is that you have plenty of options to treat your pain with. Your doctor might prescribe an antidepressant, which may help, or a medication that stops seizures (called an anticonvulsant). She/ he could also give you medication that go on your skin, like creams or patches. She may even suggest you use a device that stimulates your nerves called TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation).

How does Diabetes Affect Your Eyes?

Did you know that diabetes is the top cause of new vision loss among adults from the ages of 20 to 74 in the United States. Diabetes can lead to eye complications, some of which can even cause blindness if not treated on time. Other types of complications that can develop due to diabetes can be Glaucoma, Cataracts and Diabetic retinopathy.

A couple of symptoms that you can look out for are sight loss, general vision problems, or pain in your eye (if you have diabetes- related eye disease).

Some studies reveal that regular eye tests and timely treatment of such sort of problems could prevent up to as great as 90% of diabetes- related blindness, so that's a good thing!

How does Diabetes Affect Your Kidney Disease?

The major cause of kidney failure and kidney diseases in adults is diabetes (as per an article I read). If you are diabetic then you may not notice the initial signs of kidney troubles, in the later stages of diabetes it can cause your feet and legs to swell up. The good news is that there are medicines which lower blood pressure - it doesn't matter if you don't have a problem of high blood pressure - which can cut the risk of kidney failure by 33%

How does Diabetes Affect Your Teeth?

Being a diabetic patient puts you at higher a risk for gum disease. Your gums might turn red and swollen and may bleed easily. But if you visit your dentist on a regular basis, keep your blood sugar levels under control, and take proper care of your teeth everyday day by brushing, flossing and rinsing (preferably with an antiseptic mouthwash). In doing so you can easily avoid gum problems and tooth loss that disease brings along with it.

How can You Take Charge of Your Condition?

Most people have to make only a couple lifestyle changes to keep their blood sugar levels in control to deal with a complication related or caused due to diabetes. Others need drugs and medical treatments to curb them from getting worse.

The treatment of these complications focuses on slowing down the damage the complications may cause. These treatments may include medication, or surgery, or other options. Regardless, the most important ways to slow down diabetes complications are to maintain your blood sugar levels (keep them under control), exercise, eat right, avoid smoking, and by getting high blood pressure and high cholesterol treated immediately.

How to Prevent Diabetes Complications

If you're a diabetic patient, then I'm sure that you spend a lot of time keeping it under constant check and under limits. That's a good thing, because like we now know that this disease can cause a lot of complications that can affect almost every organ in your body. Here are a couple of suggestions as to what you can do to prevent or stay aware of these problems.

Heart Disease

We know that heart disease is one of the most leading complications associated with diabetes. During the office visits, your doctor may ask to get some tests done that screen for heart disease to help you avoid serious problems. In each visit, your doctor will check your blood pressure and probably test your blood sample for checking cholesterol levels and triglycerides at your first visit.

Your doctor might also do an EKG as part of a complete medical record. What you can do is learn more about your risk for heart disease; if it runs in your family? Are you a smoker? Make an action plan in order to prevent diabetic complications - this would include regular exercise, weight loss, and stress management, and along with all that try to keep your cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglycerides at normal levels.


What happens in a stroke is that one of the many blood vessels which supply your brain with oxygen get blocked or damaged. If the flow of blood is cut off for more than three to four minutes, that part of your brain starts to shut down. Diabetes can make it difficult for your body to respond swiftly to a stroke. When the supply of oxygen is cut off, other arteries can typically serve as a bypass. But if you are a diabetic patient, those vessels may be clogged with plaque or hardened (a condition known as atherosclerosis). This makes it difficult for the blood to get to your brain.

Following are some symptoms of a stroke - sudden weakness on one side of the face or body; trouble while speaking; numbness in the arms, face, or legs; trouble in seeing; dizziness.

If you're worried that you have any of these symptoms then consult with your doctor, she may refer you to a neurologist or a stroke specialist.

Nerve Damage (Diabetic Neuropathy)

Diabetes can cause nerve damage over a long period of time. It might make you feel a lack of sensation or numbness, pain or burning in your feet, hands or legs. If your skin starts losing feeling, you may not observe small wounds that might grow to become bigger ones.

Check parts of your body daily for calluses, cracks, redness, or other damage. If you notice any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor right away.

Diabetes can also damage the nerves which control your stomach, so they might stop working properly. This condition is known as gastroparesis, this particular condition causes your stomach to take too long to empty. This makes it hard for your body to properly manage blood sugar levels. Sometimes an alteration in diet can be helpful. There are drugs and other treatments that deal with this condition.

Kidney Disease (or Diabetic Nephropathy)

Diabetic patients need to get their urine tested every year to keep a track of any developing kidney disease. Your doctor would do a creatinine blood test (one of many blood tests) to check how the organs are working. Getting your blood pressure checked regularly is also suggested. Your blood pressure is key to slowing down this disease. Your reading should be less than 130/80.

A few lifestyle changes such as getting regular exercise and eating healthier can contribute in improving your, blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol. All this will keep track of how hard your kidneys have to work.

Your doctor may suggest some things such as cutting back on salt, protein, and fat in your diet - don't ignore that. It's also smart to keep an eye open about much alcohol you drink and if you're a smoker then try to start quitting immediately.

Eye Damage (Diabetic Retinopathy)

To protect your vision, you must see an eye doctor at least once a year. The should dilate your pupils during the visit. People who suffer with type 1 diabetes, and are older than 10 need to start visiting their eye doctor within 3 to 5 years of diagnosis. Patients who have type 2 diabetes, should make an appointment as soon as they're diagnosed.

If you face more problems, you may need to visit your doctors more often. If you conceive while being diabetic, you should schedule a comprehensive exam during the first trimester of your pregnancy and a follow-up later in your pregnancy.


If you have Type 2 diabetes then you may be prone to infections, as type 2 slows your body's ability to defend against infection. High sugar levels in your body's tissues make way for bacteria to grow more easily and infections to set in more quickly.

Common sites where such infections can set in are your bladder, kidneys, gums, feet, vagina, and skin. Getting yourself treated for in cases of infections can prevent serious complications. So visit your doctor if you see an infection developing anywhere in your body.

Dental Problems

If your blood sugar is poorly controlled, it's more likely for you to have problems in your mouth. This is because this disease harms (or attacks) white blood cells, which basically are your body's main defense against oral infections. Try to maintain a good oral hygiene by brushing, flossing and rinsing your mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash every day. Go to your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.

Gunjan Lal

Gunjan Lal

Hi! I’m Gunjan, a self-proclaimed tea fanatic and intrigued with alternative ways to lead a healthy life. I firmly believe that we should take care of our bodies because it’s the only place we live in.

Share Your Views