Your kidneys: High blood sugar levels, especially when combined with high blood pressure, can cause kidney damage that requires dialysis. Keeping your blood sugar and blood pressure under control can prevent or delay this. It is also recommended that people with diabetes have their urine tested annually for protein. In addition, nerve damage from diabetes can lead to increased bladder and kidney infections, make urination difficult, and cause urinary incontinence.
Your reproductive health: Diabetes can cause erectile dysfunction (ED) in men. Today, there are several ED treatment options available; talk to your physician about what is best for you.
In women, diabetes can cause yeast infections (vaginitis), vaginal dryness and complications during pregnancy, such as congenital birth defects, as well as delivery complications. Women with diabetes can have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies, but it takes more planning and effort. For this reason, it is especially important prevent unplanned pregnancies and to discuss any intent to have a baby with your physician before you get pregnant. Once you are pregnant, see your physician regularly for prenatal care.
Your feet: The nerve damage caused by chronic high blood sugar can cause foot problems. Patients may suffer from numbness, a burning “pins and needles” feeling, poor circulation and possibly amputation. If your feet become injured, the poor circulation can cause a delay in healing. The good news is that more than half of diabetes-related amputations can be prevented with regular exams, daily foot care, and monitoring of blood sugar levels.
Although the potential complications from diabetes may seem overwhelming, the good news is that most of these complications are preventable. Follow these simple steps to protect your body from head-to-toe:
For more specific information or help, talk to your health care provider. The American Diabetes Association's National Call Center also offers live advice from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday at 1-800-DIABETES or 1-800-342-2383.This article has been reviewed and approved by Amy L. Poetker, MS, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator.