Potential complications of diabetes


A diabetes diagnosis is life-changing. Living with diabetes requires altering one’s lifestyle. Those lifestyle changes are typically focused on diet and exercise, but some people develop complications related to diabetes that require additional changes.

The American Diabetes Association® says that diabetes increases a person’s risk for serious health problems. However, the ADA notes that with the correct treatment and lifestyle changes, it’s possible to prevent or delay the onset of such complications. As a result, it’s important that people diagnosed with diabetes learn about the potential complications of their disease and how to recognize them.

Skin complications

The ADA says skin problems are sometimes the first indicators that a person has diabetes. Most of these problems can be prevented or easily treated if caught early. The list of skin complications that can affect people with diabetes is extensive and includes bacterial infections such as styes, boils, infections around the nails, and carbuncles, which are deep infections of the skin and the tissue underneath it. Localized itching caused by a yeast infection, dry skin or poor circulation is another example of a skin condition that is often caused by diabetes. Visit www.diabetes. org/living-with-diabetes/complications/ skin-complications. html for the complete list of skin complications associated with diabetes.

Eye complications

People with diabetes have a higher risk of blindness than people without diabetes. However, the ADA notes that most people with diabetes develop only minor eye disorders. Routine checkups are essential to preventing those minor problems from becoming something major.

Glaucoma, cataracts and retinopathy are eye complications associated with diabetes. People with diabetes are 40 percent more likely to suffer from glaucoma than people without diabetes, according to the ADA. Risk for glaucoma increases with age. Cataracts are not exclusive to diabetes, though people with diabetes are 60 percent more likely to develop the condition, which occurs when the lens of the eye clouds and blocks light.

Diabetes can affect the retina in various ways, and diabetic retinopathy is the general term used to describe the various ways it can do that. Nonproliferative retinopathy and proliferative retinopathy are the two main types of the disorder, and each disorder concerns the blood vessels and how they affect vision.


Nerve damage resulting from diabetes is referred to as diabetic neuropathy. The ADA notes that roughly 50 percent of people with diabetes have some sort of nerve damage, though it is most common in people who have had diabetes for a number of years.

Peripheral neuropathy can cause tingling, numbness, pain, or weakness in the feet and hands. Autonomic neuropathy affects the nerves that control the bladder, intestinal tract, genitals, and other organs. The symptoms of autonomic neuropathy vary depending on which nerves are affected. Visit diabetes. org to learn more.

People with diabetes often develop complications, though such complications oftentimes can be prevented or delayed.