The goal of diabetes care and management is to keep you healthy and reduce your risk of diabetes complications. However, complications can still occur after years of living with the disease, particularly if your blood sugar control has been poor or you went undiagnosed for quite some time.
The good news is that detecting diabetes complications early may help you and your doctor improve the odds that the complications remain mild and do not impair your activities. Here are two of the most common complications and their earliest signs.
Diabetes increases your risk of heart and blood vessel problems, which can be very dangerous. Coronary artery disease, heart attack, atherosclerosis, and more are all potential diabetes complications.
You should already take pain that may be related to heart disease very seriously and seek emergency care if necessary—but there are less dramatic signs you also need to pay attention to for heart health.
High blood pressure is an early warning that you may be at risk for more cardiovascular issues, and you should consult with your doctor about the best way to address it. As with any diabetes complications, dealing with high blood pressure or other cardiac issues will involve a care plan including good blood sugar control. It may also include medications, as well as diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes.
Persistent high blood sugar levels can cause nerve damage, or diabetic neuropathy. Between 60 and 70 percent of people with diabetes have nerve damage of some kind. This is very common in the feet, often starting in the toes, but can also appear in the legs, arms, hands, digestive system, and sex organs.
Early symptoms of diabetic neuropathy include tingling, burning, and pain or numbness in extremities or other body parts. It's also possible to have diabetic neuropathy of the digestive system, which could cause digestive discomfort, and it can also manifest itself in the blood vessels, which could cause nausea and vomiting in addition to dizziness and blacking out upon standing.
Report these symptoms to your doctor immediately. Diabetic neuropathy can often be controlled and its progress stalled by achieving good blood sugar control under you and your doctor’s diabetes care plan.