Diabetes – Managing and preventing long-term complications
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Sticking to your treatment plan is the best way to avoid the long-term health complications associated with diabetes.
Long-term, or chronic, complications, may develop over several years. In diabetes, if your blood glucose level stays high over a long period, it can damage various organs and tissues. Symptoms may not be obvious, so routine screening is recommended to catch and treat problems early.
In diabetes, chronic complications may include:Back to top
- Cardiovascular problems including heart disease and stroke.
- Nerve damage (neuropathy) – causes numbness or pain, often affecting the legs and feet.
- Kidney damage (nephropathy) – can lead to kidney failure, and the need for dialysis or transplant.
- Eye damage (retinopathy) – can lead to vision loss; cataracts, glaucoma.
- Foot problems including nerve damage, poor blood flow and poor wound healing.
- Skin infections.
- Dental problems, such as gum disease.
- Erectile dysfunction.
- Hearing loss.
For both short and long-term complications, the best prevention is good control of your blood sugar by following your treatment plan diligently:
- Take medications exactly as prescribed: both for diabetes, and any other medications to treat risk factors (e.g, high blood pressure, high cholesterol).
- Monitor your blood sugar regularly.
- Follow a healthy diet e.g. Mediterranean or Dash diet, with plenty of fruit and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Don’t skip meals.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Exercise regularly – minimum 30 minutes five days a week.
- Stay well-hydrated.
- Don’t smoke.
- See your doctor regularly to monitor your diabetes and to screen for any potential complications.
Cleveland Clinic. Diabetes: An Overview. 2021.
Diabetes Education Online Diabetes Teaching Center, University of California, San Francisco. Living with diabetes: complications
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