Over time, high blood glucose levels can cause serious damage to
the organs of the body. The good news, however, is that most of
this damage can be prevented or at least delayed. Your doctor and
health care team can assist you with strategies to help you live a
long and healthy life with diabetes.
Damage to the large blood vessels
- Heart attack and stroke: having diabetes increases your risk of
having a heart
attack or stroke. A family history of heart disease or stroke,
smoking and being physically inactive also increase your risk.
- Peripheral vascular disease: damage to the blood vessels in the
feet means their blood supply is limited, which can cause delayed
healing from blisters or sores. In very serious cases, surgery may
be necessary and amputation may be required. Visiting a podiatrist
or health professional regularly regarding your feet is
Damage to the small blood vessels
- Retinopathy: damage to the retinas at the back of your eyes, if
left unchecked, can cause blindness. Your eyes should be examined
regularly by a qualified optometrist or eye specialist.
- Nephropathy: high blood glucose levels can damage your
kidneys over time, especially if you have high blood pressure.
Keeping your blood glucose and blood pressure under control will
help reduce your risk.
- Neuropathy: neuropathy is nerve damage caused by high blood
glucose levels. Nerve damage can lead to pain and loss of feeling
to the hands and feet, known as peripheral neuropathy. The
symptoms of neuropathy include pain, loss of feeling and altered
sensation in the hands and feet (peripheral neuropathy),
gastro-intestinal problems and sexual
problems (erectile dysfunction or impotence).
Teeth and gum care
High blood glucose levels can cause tooth decay and gum
infection which will in turn increase blood glucose levels further.
Warning signs include a dry mouth, burning tongue, red, sore,
swollen or bleeding gums and white film on your gums or the inside
of your cheeks or tongue. Let your dentist know that you have
diabetes and keep up regular visits. More information about your
teeth and gums.
Reducing complications from diabetes
You can reduce your risk of developing diabetes-related
- Keeping your blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol at
- Remember to see your GP for all your recommended annual
- Taking medications as prescribed
- If you smoke - QUIT Call 13Quit on 13 7848 for help or
visit their website
- Be physically active for at least 30 minutes, five times a
- Follow a healthy eating plan
- Limit your alcohol intake
- Lose excess weight
- Check your feet daily and choose footwear that protects
Ten steps to achieving Diabetes and good health