Diabetes increases the risk for many serious health problems. With proper treatment and lifestyle changes, however, many people with diabetes can prevent or delay the onset of complications.

Over time, high blood glucose levels can cause a number of potential health problems, including

  • Kidney disease (nephropathy)
    A slow deterioration of kidney function, which can lead to kidney failure.
  • Nerve damage (neuropathy)
    The most common cause of amputation in the United States not caused by accident, diabetic nerve damage can lead to a loss of feeling and sometimes pain and weakness in the feet, legs, hands and arms.
  • Vision loss (retinopathy)
    The most common eye-related complication of diabetes, retinopathy is a progressive disease that destroys small blood vessels in the retina, eventually causing vision problems, including blindness.
  • Cardiovascular disease
    A range of blood vessel system diseases that include heart attack and stroke; the two most common associated with diabetes are coronary artery disease, a buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries that feed the heart, and high blood pressure.

Other long-term complications of diabetes include skin problems, digestive disorders, sexual dysfunction, and problems with the teeth and gums.