Good blood sugar control can reduce the risk of these diabetes complications.
Getting a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can be discouraging, but it’s important to know that you still have a lot of control over your own health. You’re not “doomed” to all of the complications that sometimes come from type 2 diabetes. If you can achieve good control over your blood sugar and diabetes management, you’ll have a much lower risk of complications.
What are complications of type 2 diabetes?
When diabetes is not under control, blood sugar levels may be high or unstable. High blood sugar levels can damage other organs, leading to additional problems. Possible complications include:
- Cardiovascular problems: High blood sugar can damage the blood vessels and increase the risk of high blood pressure. This can strain the heart muscle over time.
- Diabetic neuropathy: Nerve damage from high blood sugar can cause tingling and numbness in the hands and feet. Learn more here about neuropathy.
- Frequent infections: People with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of infections. This is partially because of neuropathy. Small cuts and blisters on the feet, for example, could go unnoticed if the feet are numb. This may turn a small cut into a major infection in which it’s too late for antibiotics.
- Amputations: A limb amputation usually happens as a result of an unnoticed and untreated infection. The point is, diabetic neuropathy can have serious consequences.
- Diabetic retinopathy: This is when high blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels that supply blood to the eyes. It can potentially cause blindness.
- Diabetic nephropathy: This refers to kidney damage caused by uncontrolled blood sugar. It can cause the kidney tissue to thicken, and it can affect the kidneys’ ability to filter waste from your blood.
How can you prevent diabetes-related health problems?
Remember, you can reduce your risk of these complications by following your prescribed treatment regimen. This may include:
- Making lifestyle changes (such as a healthy diet and regular exercise)
- Tracking your blood sugar consistently
- Sticking to any prescribed medications
- Following up with your doctor regularly
- Checking in with specialists to monitor changes in your eyes, kidneys, heart, etc.
Don’t have good control of your blood sugar levels yet? Talk to your doctor. Finding the habits that work might be a big shift for you, and you don’t have to struggle alone. Your doctor may have tips and advice to make your treatment plan easier and more effective.
Tara Kim, MD, is an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, Northwell Health.