Many people wonder what the side effects of diabetes are… what can happen because you have type 2 diabetes? And more importantly, is there any way to avoid or minimize these complications?
Here’s what you need to know– first, there are serious complications that can accompany type 2 diabetes, but you can be proactive and minimize or, in some cases, avoid them entirely by keeping your blood sugar in the target zone that your doctor recommends.
So let’s talk a little about the types of complications that can result from high blood sugar that is not under control. (Remember that while these are very serious, they are NOT inevitable – effective management of your blood sugar is the key factor. This is a case where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!) Here are some of the most significant health problems that can result from untreated high blood sugar and uncontrolled high blood pressure:
1. Cardiovascular disease and strokes are more common in people with diabetes than people without diabetes. You can reduce your risk for heart attacks or strokes by managing blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol with a healthy diet and exercise. If you smoke, this is the time to quit.
2. Kidney disease can be a result of the extra work the kidneys have to do to filter blood, but monitoring blood sugar and blood pressure can lower your chance of developing this complication.
3. Peripheral neuropathy is a type of nerve damage caused by diabetes and is most common if you’ve had diabetes for a few years.
4. Diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts can be more frequent in those with diabetes, but regular eye checkups can keep minor eye problems from developing into major ones.
5. Skin Conditions: People with diabetes can more easily get bacterial or fungal infections as well as some skin conditions that are specific to diabetes, so visit a dermatologist for an annual checkup or whenever you have any symptoms.
What You Can Do
Your doctor or diabetes educator has no doubt explained all of this and helped you put together a customized plan to help you get your blood sugar into the right range and keep it there. This plan generally involves limiting carbohydrates, getting regular exercise, monitoring your blood sugar before and after meals, drinking plenty of water and avoiding stress. You can also learn about how to keep your blood sugar in range by watching our video about how to test your blood sugar. By taking these simple preventative measures and keeping yourself educated (sign up for our free email program about diabetes here), you can minimize or avoid many of the serious complications of type 2 diabetes and live a long, healthy life.