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Overview Overview What are the complications of type 2 diabetes?

What are the complications of type 2 diabetes?

Medical Care Lab Tests
1/19/2023    |    0 min read

If you or someone you know is living with type 2 diabetes, it can be daunting to learn about potential complications related to the condition. Consistent high blood sugar levels can damage our blood vessels and cause other parts of our body to lose proper functioning. The resulting complications require additional personal and medical care. By familiarizing yourself with how and where complications occur, along with how to prevent them, you can better collaborate with your healthcare team and empower your diabetes management.

Diabetes and heart disease

  • Blood vessels leading to our heart are also vulnerable to high blood sugars, which increases the risk of having a stroke, heart attack, or other forms of cardiovascular disease.
  • To monitor for heart disease risk, your cholesterol and blood lipids should be tested regularly. If you have been diagnosed with hypertension, monitor your blood pressure daily and consider 9amHealth for co-management of high blood pressure and diabetes.

Diabetes and kidney disease

  • The blood vessels in our kidneys can also lose their normal function with continuous exposure to high blood sugar. Damage of the vessels reduces your kidneys’ ability to filter blood which can eventually develop into chronic kidney disease.
  • It is recommended to monitor your kidney function by completing a microalbumin test every year.
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Diabetes and nerve damage

  • High blood sugars can gradually damage nerves in different parts of our body like our arms, hands, legs, and feet. This could later cause a feeling of numbness in those areas.
  • To catch any warning signs of nerve damage in your feet, set aside time each day to thoroughly check them for any injuries you may not have felt. Be sure to schedule a yearly foot exam to inspect and test sensations in the feet.
  • Nerve damage to other bodily systems can present in a variety of ways. Discuss with your doctor if you notice numbness in any of your extremities or changes in your bowel movements, urination, digestion, or genitals.

Diabetes and eye damage 

Over time, if the blood sugar remains high it can damage the sensitive blood vessels surrounding our eyes and cause blurry vision, cataracts, and/or retinopathy. This in turn can potentially lead to vision loss.
To stay on top of your eye health, aim to get an eye exam completed each year and discuss with your doctor any recent changes in your vision.

Diabetes and poor wound healing

Vascular damage from high blood sugars can also result in worsening blood circulation as time goes on. This in turn makes it more difficult for wounds to heal, particularly injuries on the feet and legs. As wounds remain unhealed, their risk for infection increases. As an infection worsens, amputation of the affected extremity may be necessary.
At your annual foot exam, have your doctor test your pulse in your feet to ensure adequate blood flow. Be sure to alert your doctor if you notice any cuts, wounds, or other injuries that are not healing properly

Three things to prevent type 2 diabetes complications

1. Keep your blood sugar in range 
Preventing diabetes-related complications is rooted in keeping blood sugars within a target range. For most people a range of 70-130 mg/dL before meals and <180 mg/dL one to two hours after meals are recommended. Talk with your healthcare team about your personal blood sugar goals.

2. Do your labs and exams frequently 

It is important to keep in mind diabetes-related complications arise when blood sugar is out of range over long periods of time, this is not something that will occur after a few elevated readings. This is why it is essential to complete annual lab work, eye exams, foot exams, dental appointments, and other health screenings recommended by your care team. Committing to your appointments will help with staying on top of your blood sugar control and will catch any signs of complications early.

3. Reduce stress, eat healthy, and don't smoke 

Finally, lifestyle also plays a major role in helping our blood sugar stay within the desired ranges and in keeping our heart healthy. A great place to start is to aim for healthy, well-rounded meals and snacks. If you are struggling with your diet, our Diabetes Care Specialists are an excellent resource for providing personalized recommendations. Other lifestyle areas to focus on include managing stress, exercising regularly, and refraining from smoking.


We meet you where you are

Managing type 2 diabetes complications doesn’t have to be complex. If you are interested in learning more about a personalized care plan that fits your needs schedule reach out to our Care Team today.

Treating and preventing diabetes-related complications requires a compassionate Care Team. 9amHealth is available to help create a care plan not only tailored to your medical conditions, but to your personal needs as a whole. Reach out to one of our specialists today to find a care plan right for you. 

About the author

Karina Nwoko is a registered dietitian and licensed nutritionist who specializes in nutrition education, weight-loss counseling, and chronic disease management. She utilizes writing to provide evidence-based wellness content to businesses and brands. Outside of work you can find Karina literally running around Orlando, Florida where she enjoys training for road races and exploring the restaurant scene.

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