Diabetes can be managed effectively, allowing those with both Type 1 and Type 2 to live long, fulfilling lives. Gone untreated (or improperly managed), however, diabetes can cause systemic failures and chronic illnesses.
The 6 complications below are some of the most common—and most serious—conditions to watch out for.
#1. Nerve Damage
Nerve damage (also called neuropathy) is a serious complication of diabetes and often goes undetected. Although damage can be minimized if caught early on, there is currently no cure or means to reverse neuropathy, so careful monitoring of potential symptoms is vital.
If you’ve noticed a tingling or numbness in any of your extremities, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
#2. Vision Changes
Diabetes can cause a condition called retinopathy, wherein the sufferer experiences a decrease in vision due to damaged blood vessels in the eyes. Initially seen as a slight decrease in day and nighttime vision, retinopathy can eventually lead to vision loss altogether. If you notice a decrease in your vision, speak with your physician.
#3. Heart Disease
Symptoms of heart disease, unfortunately, can be more difficult to detect. Indications of heart disease include high blood pressure and cholesterol, while symptoms may present as similar to insignificant conditions such as heartburn. If you have noticed an increase in nausea, dizziness, sweating, or a feeling of tightness in your chest, you may need a trip to the emergency room.
#4. Digestive Upset
While a simple upset stomach is not terribly uncommon among diabetes patients, persistent nausea, constipation, vomiting, and stomach pain could indicate the presence of gastroparesis, a condition in which the stomach fails to move food forward along the digestive chain, causing it to sit and essentially rot within the stomach cavity.
While a two-day case of the flu is not cause for concern, continual vomiting, nausea, or stomach pains may be cause for concern and warrant a visit to your doctor.
#5. Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is another potential complication of diabetes that often goes unnoticed or undiagnosed for a significant period of time. Sleep apnea is a condition in which the body fails to get adequate levels of deep sleep and instead has periods of difficult, interrupted sleep. Snoring is often associated with sleep apnea, but isn’t necessary an indication of sleep apnea. Rather, the best sign of sleep apnea is your energy level; if you wake up feeling exhausted and struggle to make it through the day, you should consult your healthcare provider.
#6. Kidney Disease
In men and women with diabetes, the kidneys often work overtime trying to filter blood and control glucose levels. Constant use can cause kidney fatigue, which can eventually turn into kidney disease and subsequent failure. The symptoms can mask themselves as other conditions, and include fatigue, muscle aches and fatigue, an increase or decrease in urination, nausea, and fluid build-up. Because kidney disease is hard to detect until it is advanced, you should have regular check-ups performed by your doctor and make a note of any of the above symptoms.