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.


  1. Patty

    09/26/2016 at 7:35 PM

    I need a list of foods I can and can not eat for type 2 diabetes

    • shirley

      09/29/2016 at 7:27 AM

      Good foods: whole grains; brown rice; blueberries; apples; nuts; asparagus; beans; yogurts; one slice of bread at a meal;
      Bad foods: chocolate; sugar; breads; potatoes

    • admin

      04/27/2017 at 5:27 PM

      Hi Patty,

      Here’s a link to all of our nutrition information in one place:

      You can download any of our free PDFs that you find helpful. Good luck!


  2. Gulnaz Khan

    09/27/2016 at 9:09 PM

    I 2nd that Request made by “Patty”, I am also a Type 2 Diabetic, n REALLY Need Help with Food Habits. About What I can n Can not eat , or Pick as my daily diet routines. Would Gr8ly appreciate a Strong Feed back on this. Waiting to hear from this Source!!!,

    • Nancy Werner

      10/29/2016 at 10:50 AM

      I need to get some suggestions on foods to eat. How hi is it okay for blood sugars to go up after you eat. Also what is a good source to get information.

      • admin

        04/11/2017 at 4:28 PM

        Hi Nancy,

        Testing before and after a meal is the way to figure out which foods are right for you. The American Diabetes Association recommends that your blood sugar should be less than 180 two hours after a meal.

        If this is where your blood glucose is after a meal, you’ll know that that meal is right for your diabetes.

        Hope this is helpful–


    • admin

      04/27/2017 at 5:28 PM

      Hi Gulnaz,

      Here’s the link I provided to Patty above with all of our nutritional information in one place:

      I also recommend that you see a dietitian who can customize a meal plan specifically for you based on your food preferences and health issues. Here’s a link to find one near you:

      Hope that’s helpful. Thanks!

  3. Julia Marine

    09/28/2016 at 5:04 PM

    My Doctors nurse said my kidney is stage three, yet at 80 years old we see its elivated, and I have been Borderline for years, so I dont take insalin, and no pills except Gabaplnton, and Isinopril, and Zestril Mega Thees And a 80 mil asperin so foods are balanced for energy. Excercise is Gardening and house work. Walking causes severe pain in my lower back, arthritus is all there. So any advice would be great.

    • faye Fowler

      09/29/2016 at 5:08 PM

      I have the same problem as Julia Marine except I’m 73. I need to know what protein and foods that will benefit both diabetes and kidneys. I’ve read that too much protein can be bad altho I know you have to have it. Another option is a dietician which you have ti pay for but I can’t even find one. Please help me.

      • admin

        04/11/2017 at 4:30 PM


        Check with your local health department– often, they have free classes and sometimes, they have a dietitian on staff as well. Does your insurance cover time with a dietitian? If so, you can find one near you here:

        Talking to a dietitian is the key for figuring out what’s right for you and your body–


  4. Starlene Gabriel

    09/29/2016 at 6:10 PM

    If we supposed too get 5 times how do u do it? Time wise& what??

  5. Janice houck

    09/29/2016 at 8:33 PM

    I also would like a list of what foods you can and cannot have
    It would be greatly appreciated
    Thank you

  6. Melinda Hall

    09/30/2016 at 12:46 AM

    Some isurances cover nutrition classes

  7. Kelly Greenwood

    09/30/2016 at 3:48 AM

    I have had diabetes since 2009. I have recently been diagnosed with Gastroperisis also. The biggest disease I have is RSD.

  8. Randy Challis

    10/23/2016 at 9:46 PM

    I have type 2 diabetes since 2009. I am close to 400 lbs. Use to be 839 lbs back in 3001. I need to know what foods I can eat. And I need to know the foods that I cannot eat. My A1C is currently at 8.1.

  9. Randy Challis

    10/23/2016 at 9:52 PM

    Corrections: Highest weight in 2001. My current A1C is 5.1.

    • Allison Spradlin

      10/28/2016 at 9:39 PM

      keep up the good work. ive been diabetic since 1996. i have had my ups and downs with it. my a1c has never been that low. thats very good. im at 7.1 currently came down from 12.8 back in Dec. of last year

    • admin

      04/11/2017 at 4:48 PM


      Wow, first and foremost, congratulations on losing all that weight. Whatever you’re doing in terms of diet seems to be making a big difference.

      I believe you corrected your A1c written here to 5.1 If that’s the case, you should know that you’re also doing really, really well with your diabetes. Losing all the weight that you have has made a big difference. Diabetes is a numbers game– and there are five numbers that matter: your A1c, blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, your eGFR and the results from an eye exam. Here’s a video of an endocrinologist talking about what you need to know:

      Your numbers can also help you figure out what changes to make to your diet. There’s a video about that here:

      I wish you continued success–


  10. Ann K Bush

    10/30/2016 at 3:06 PM

    I have typever 2 diabetes and need to know what foods to eat

    • admin

      04/11/2017 at 4:25 PM

      Hi Ann,

      This video may help you think about how to set up a healthy meal:

      Basically, half of your plate should be non-starchy vegetables, a fourth of your plate should be whole grains or starchy vegetables (do watch your portion sizes here) and a fourth of your plate should be lean protein.

      Hope that’s helpful to you–


  11. karen

    10/30/2016 at 8:19 PM

    What you eat, carbs, is only half the information people with diabetes needs to know! They also need to know that the only way to get glucose out of the bloodstream is by large muscle exercise. This is the only way to get your A1c down. Why aren’ those with diabetes told this?

    Limiting carbs helps to reverse diabetes but almost everything has carbs and there will be a build up in the bloodstream. Only large muscle exercise will burn up the glucose in the blood stream and lower the A1c.

  12. Miley Fishero

    10/31/2016 at 7:25 AM

    My A1c is 8.1 and I am 64 years old and was diagnosed in 2001.
    1) what large muscle exercises do we do to reduce our A1c?
    2) do any of you have loose or excessive stool issues with taking metformin or insulin a as Humalig & lantus?
    3) any advice would be so appreciated.

    • admin

      04/11/2017 at 4:36 PM

      Hi Miley,

      Any kind of exercise is great for blood sugar (and will also help with your A1c)– here’s a video about that.

      Diarrhea and abdominal discomfort are certainly two side effects of metformin– have you talked to your doctor about what you’re experiencing? That’s always a good first step–

      Best of luck to you,

  13. Patricia

    10/31/2016 at 4:23 PM

    Miley metformin causes diarrhea but I take januvia with metformin but half a pill. It works ok for me. I’m working on losing weight, but have trouble making time to excercise. Now having issues with the cost of the meds. I eat apple slices with peanut butter for snack. Nuts, lots of protein, like chicken and turkey. Fish. Tuna and eggs. I also use a protein shake. I have lost 43 lbs. I’m always needing food ideas. I don’t care for some vegetables. What to eat??

  14. sybillancman

    03/02/2017 at 1:08 AM

    same for me,good food bad food.

  15. admin

    04/11/2017 at 4:22 PM

    Hey everyone,

    Thanks so much for posting comments here– here’s a video that talks about how to think about eating a healthy diet with diabetes.

    In general, there aren’t good foods and bad foods– a healthy diet is centered on fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. Here is more material about how to set up a balanced meal:

    I hope that’s helpful–



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