Understanding the Complications of Diabetes

Although many conversations about diabetes focus on blood sugar, the reality is that complications from unmanaged diabetes can affect your whole body. 

The dangers of unmanaged diabetes are particularly alarming when you consider how many adults have diabetes but don’t yet realize it. 

About 7.2 million Americans are unaware that they have diabetes. And more than 30% of Americans are considered prediabetic, which means they are at risk of developing diabetes.

At Family First Wellness, Samantha Lindsay, MD, is a diabetes specialist dedicated to helping our patients with Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, and prediabetes. Swift and vigilant diabetes care reduces your risk of developing some of the more serious complications of diabetes.

We’re strong believers in the power of education, and that’s why we’ve created this blog to highlight some of the complications of unmanaged diabetes and how to prevent them.

Why diabetes complications affect your whole body

It’s tempting to think of diabetes as isolated to your blood. After all, so much of the diabetes conversation focuses on checking blood sugar levels. But because your blood flows through your entire body, uncontrolled diabetes affects nearly every part of your body. 

Here are some of the most common diabetes complications.

Vision problems

Yes, diabetes can affect your vision. If you have diabetes, you’re more likely to experience:

High blood pressure in the eye (glaucoma) can lead to blindness. In addition to managing your diabetes, be sure to receive routine diabetic eye exams.

Kidney problems

Your kidneys act as a filter for your blood, but if you have high blood sugar levels, your kidneys work too hard. When too much waste accumulates in your kidneys, it can lead to kidney disease. Because working kidneys are vital, dialysis is often required for severe kidney disease.


Neuropathy is another common complication of diabetes. Neuropathy occurs when there’s damage to your nerves. Most often, this condition announces its presence through such symptoms as numbness, tingling, or burning pain in your legs and feet. 

While numbness might not seem so bad, it can be problematic. For example, if you cut your foot (but don’t feel it), you might not get the care you need, increasing your risk of bacterial infections and ulcers.

Skin problems

If you have diabetes, you’re more at risk for bacterial skin infections and other skin problems such as boils or folliculitis (infected hair follicles). Slow-healing wounds and skin ulcers can quickly become infected. 

Other skin problems include itchy skin (from poor circulation), increased risk of yeast infections, and increased risk of fungal infections (such as athlete’s foot). 

Always keep your skin clean and dry to help reduce infections. If you do see a sore, don’t delay getting it cleaned and properly bandaged.

Heart disease

High blood sugar levels can damage your heart, leading to high blood pressure and increased risk of heart attack. High blood pressure is often asymptomatic, so it’s important to get regular blood pressure readings. 

Risk of strokes

Too much blood sugar can contribute to the increase in artery-clogging deposits. If these deposits restrict the blood flow to your brain, you’re at risk for a stroke. 

Preventing these complications

We know it may seem overwhelming to read through so many complications, but it’s important to be aware of how diabetes affects your entire body. If you are already diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes, you can reduce your risk of developing these complications by:

If you don’t have diabetes or prediabetes, follow a heart-healthy lifestyle and maintain a healthy weight to keep your blood sugar levels in check.

At Family First Wellness, we want to help you not just control diabetes, but prevent these complications. To request an appointment, call our Lutz, Florida, office or book online.

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