Diabetes can cause serious damage to the cardiovascular system, eyes, and kidneys.
The earlier the disease can be diagnosed the better because oftentimes the damage is occurring and the person is not even aware of it.
Heart disease: This is the most common complication of diabetes.
The risk of heart disease doubles when a person develops the disease.
The arteries that supply blood to the heart become blocked with fat and cholesterol, blocking blood flow and increasing the chances for a heart attack.
Kidney failure: This complication of diabetes affects about 100,000 people in the U.
Kidney failure is caused by diabetes in about 40 percent of all cases diagnosed.
Kidney disease and kidney failure can occur even when the disease is thought to be under control with drugs, diet and exercise.
Vision problems: While many vision problems related to diabetes can be corrected early in the disease, complications can be much more severe long term.
Blurred vision can occur because of changing glucose levels which affect the lens of the eye causing it to swell.
Glaucoma and cataracts are frequent complications of diabetes.
Diabetic retinopathy, a disease of the retina is also a concern and, people with diabetes are more likely to become blind that those who never get it.
Nerve damage: Numbness, pain and weakness due to nerve damage is a complication of diabetes.
This often occurs in the legs, feet, arms and hands.
The heart, digestive tract, and other organs can also have damage.
Infections: Those with diabetes tend to have more infections than those who do not.
Early detection and treatment is important to minimize this problem.
Gum infections are common and women with diabetes develop vaginal infections more frequently.
Sexual problems: Sexual complications of diabetes are related to the nerve damage that the disease causes.
Men may have a problem getting and maintaining an erection or with ejaculation.
Women may have problems with vaginal lubrication.
Foot problems: Because of the numbness caused by nerve damage people with diabetes may suffer foot injuries.
Foot ulcers are common and perhaps the most serious problem.
These can be difficult to heal and in extreme cases amputation may be required.
Seeking immediate medical help with foot ulcers is very important.
The causes of long term complications of diabetes are still not fully understood.
Predictions can not be made as to who will develop these complications and who will not.
They are however, most likely to develop in a person who has had the disease for a long time.
Knowing what they are is extremely important because they sometimes occur before before the disease is even diagnosed.