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Complications

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 advised.

 

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 complications by:

  • Keeping your blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol at target levels
  • Remember to see your GP for all your recommended annual checks
  • 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 week
  • Follow a healthy eating plan
  • Limit your alcohol intake
  • Lose excess weight
  • Check your feet daily and choose footwear that protects them.

 

Ten steps to achieving Diabetes and good health