What are the Effects of Diabetes on the Body?

Kerrie Main

Diabetes is a health condition that occurs when a person’s body doesn’t create enough insulin to convert sugars and starches into energy. Even though both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes initially affect a person’s blood sugar levels and insulin production, there are many long-term effects of diabetes. Having this condition puts a person at risk for many health problems and complications, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and strokes. Other health effects of diabetes on the body include problems with the kidneys, eyes, feet and mouth.

Some diabetics suffer from glaucoma and other eye diseases that cause vision loss.
Some diabetics suffer from glaucoma and other eye diseases that cause vision loss.

Diabetes sufferers, especially those who have type 2 diabetes caused by obesity and unhealthy eating habits, typically have a higher-than-average risk of having a stroke or heart attack. Heart attacks usually occur when the blood supply to the heart is reduced or cut off, and people who have diabetes might have blockages caused by fatty deposits in the heart's blood vessels. Strokes can occur when blood vessels in the brain are clogged by blood clots or fatty deposits as well.

High blood pressure is a possible serious effect of diabetes.
High blood pressure is a possible serious effect of diabetes.

One of the most dangerous effects of diabetes is high blood pressure. High blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs in an average of two out of every three adults who have diabetes. Blood pressure controls the force of blood flow in a person’s blood vessels. It is considered to be at a high level when the blood moves through the vessels with too much force. People who have diabetes often have this issue, and their hearts have to work harder than healthy hearts.

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Blood sugar must be kept as steady as possible, because both high and low glucose levels can cause serious health issues.
Blood sugar must be kept as steady as possible, because both high and low glucose levels can cause serious health issues.

Kidney problems, such as kidney damage and infections, are common diabetes complications. These health ailments are the effects of diabetes caused by high blood glucose levels. Some signs of these types of problems might include back pain, chills or fever, burning pain during urination and cloudy-colored urine.

A person with foot and ankle swelling, which is a sign of diabetes.
A person with foot and ankle swelling, which is a sign of diabetes.

Many diabetes sufferers experience eye diseases that might cause severe vision loss or blindness. Diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and cataracts are all common effects of diabetes. Many of them are caused by changes in the retina blood vessels, including the retina leaking fluid and swelling. Mouth problems, such as losing teeth, cavities and gum disease, are other possible effects of diabetes. These types of problems are caused by high blood sugars and well as a diminished immune system.

When blood sugar levels fluctuate in and out of normal range, the kidneys become overtaxed.
When blood sugar levels fluctuate in and out of normal range, the kidneys become overtaxed.

Another one of the most common long-term effects of diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes, is feet problems. Diabetes damages nerves in the body, and the nerves to the feet are the longest ones that a person has. When nerve damage occurs, a person might lose feeling in the feet or even experience pain or numbness. Many diabetes sufferers are at risk of losing toes or even an entire foot if their diabetes condition is not controlled and managed.

Keeping a steady blood glucose level can help diabetics avoid many of the negative effects of the disease.
Keeping a steady blood glucose level can help diabetics avoid many of the negative effects of the disease.

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