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Complications of Type 2 Diabetes

Monday 4 January 2021
Diabetes

Table of Contents


I. Controlling Your Blood Sugar

II. The Dangers of Ignoring Diabetes Symptoms

III. Potential Complications

IV. Tips for Preventing Complications


Controlling Your Blood Sugar

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes can be easy to ignore. If your diabetes is in its early stages, you will likely feel normal because diabetes damage occurs gradually. Left untreated, type 2 diabetes can affect your kidneys, eyes, nerves, blood vessels, and heart. Your best chance of preventing these complications is to control your blood sugar levels. Drugs like Onglyza (Saxagliptin), Janumet (Sitagliptin)Farxiga (Dapagliflozin), and Metformin may be prescribed to help keep your blood sugar levels in a healthy range. [1]

The Dangers of Ignoring Diabetes Symptoms

You should never ignore your diabetes symptoms. Instead, symptoms can prompt you to take preventive action. Type 2 diabetes might not seem severe right away, but it can develop into debilitating and life-threatening long-term complications. Some complications require amputation and can cause blindness. By controlling your blood sugar levels early on, you can significantly reduce your risk of suffering a severe complication down the road. [1] 

a man exercising outdoors

Potential Complications

Your diabetes may cause you to develop atherosclerosis. [1] Atherosclerosis is a disease that occurs when your blood vessels stiffen and restrict blood flow to your organs. Atherosclerosis is a heart disease that can dramatically increase your risk of stroke and blood clots. [2] Diabetes accelerates atherosclerosis by increasing inflammation and slowing blood flow. Although atherosclerosis is treatable, it can put you at risk of heart attacks. [2] [3] 

Having high blood sugar levels can cause neuropathy. Neuropathy is nerve damage characterized by tingling, numbness, and pain. Usually, neuropathy starts at the tips of your toes and spreads upward. High blood sugar can damage nerves in other parts of your body as well. Diabetic neuropathy can affect your digestive system, urinary tract, and heart. Severe neuropathy may cause sores and ulcers that do not heal and may require amputation. [4] 

Inside your kidneys are millions of blood vessels that filter waste products from your blood. Having high blood sugar levels forces your kidneys to filter too much blood, making your kidneys work harder. [5] Putting your kidneys in overdrive can damage the blood vessels in your kidney and cause them to fail. [6] When the damage is severe, irreversible end-stage kidney disease may occur and dialysis (blood filter treatment) or a kidney transplant may be needed. [1]

a close-up photo of an eye

Type 2 diabetes can cause many sight-related issues. Diabetes can damage the blood vessels in your retina and lead to blindness. [1] Cataracts may also form as a result of diabetes. Cataracts are formations in the lens of your eyes that blur your vision and cause increased sensitivity to light. [7] There is a link between diabetes and glaucoma as well. Glaucoma is a condition that involves damage to your optic nerve. Your optic nerve enables you to see, and people with diabetes are twice as likely than people without diabetes to develop glaucoma. [8] [9] 

People with type 2 diabetes have a higher chance of being overweight, which consequently increases the risk of developing sleep apnea. This occurs because obesity tends to cause an obstruction in the upper airway. An apnea is a period of time when you stop breathing. People who experience these apneas throughout the night may also experience low levels of oxygen that impact brain and heart function. [10]

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. It is a progressive disease that affects your ability to learn, communicate, make decisions, and remember. Alzheimer’s disease may develop when your diabetes damages your brain. Studies have linked type 2 diabetes with Alzheimer’s disease and have noticed that high blood sugar is often an early warning sign. [11]

a band-aid on a hand

There are many other potential complications that type 2 diabetes may cause. High blood sugar levels can damage any area of your body. If the nerves in your stomach are damaged, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may occur. Damage to the nerves in a man’s genitals can lead to erectile dysfunction. Type 2 diabetes can lead to skin conditions, hearing impairment, and slow healing of wounds. If your healing ability is reduced, untreated wounds can easily become severe infections that need an amputation. [1] 

Tips for Preventing Complications 

Preventing type 2 diabetes complications comes down to controlling your blood sugar levels. Your doctor may prescribe medications like Onglyza (Saxagliptin), Janumet (Sitagliptin)Farxiga (Dapagliflozin), and Metformin to lower your blood sugar. Losing weight, being active, and eating healthy can help maximize the effectiveness of your treatment plan. Keeping your blood sugar at a healthy level is crucial for preventing complications that can put your life at risk. [1]

The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.