Diabetes complications can be serious. Diabetes can cause nerve damage. Nerve damage caused by diabetes is called diabetic neuropathy. People with diabetic neuropathy may experience numbness, pain, or tingling in the extremities or have no symptoms. Diabetic neuropathy is a common complication of diabetes, especially for diabetic patients who have had diabetes for over twenty-five years.
People with diabetes have an increased risk for heart disease and stroke. Fatty deposits can accumulate inside blood vessels due to high levels of glucose in the blood. These fatty deposits constrict blood flow which can lead to heart disease. If a blood vessel in the brain or neck becomes clogged, it can cause a stroke.
Diabetic retinopathy is the most common eye disease associated with diabetes. Diabetes retinopathy is a condition that can cause the small blood vessels of the eyes to leak blood. This condition can cause blurriness, blank spots, dark spots, flashing lights, and pain or pressure in the eyes.
If diabetic retinopathy is left untreated, it can lead to blindness. If diabetic patients experience any vision problems, they should notify their physicians. Diabetic retinopathy can be treated with lasers to stop blood vessels from continuing to leak into the vitreous of the eye.
Diabetes can cause kidney failure. People who have had diabetes for at least fifteen years are at greater risk for kidney failure. Diabetes impairs the kidneys’ ability to filter waste from the blood.
There are some lesser-known complications of diabetes. Erectile dysfunction affects thirty-five to fifty percent of men with diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes can increase a diabetic patient’s risk of tooth and gum disease.
Gastroparesis is caused my nerve damage affecting the nerves of the stomach. This complication of diabetes causes gastrointestinal problems such as heartburn, reflux, and nausea. Gastroparesis extends the amount of time it takes for food to digest. Partially undigested food can sit in the stomach for significant periods of time which can cause a blockage of the digestive tract.