Health & Wellness Articles

Preventing Diabetes Complications

Protect Your Body from Head-to-Toe

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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:
  • Monitor your blood glucose level and keep it under control by following the plan laid out by your health care provider.
  • Eat a healthy diet. A Certified Diabetes Educator or registered dietitian in your area can design a healthy eating plan for you.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol in-check.
  • Keep up with recommended screening tests, as outlined by your doctor.
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.
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About The Author

Liza Barnes Liza Barnes
Liza has two bachelor's degrees: one in health promotion and education and a second in nursing. A registered nurse and mother, regular exercise and cooking are top priorities for her. See all of Liza's articles.

Member Comments

  • I was just recently diagnosed as borderline diabetic. This article was very helpful. I do experience poor circulation, numbness, tingling. My doctor had me meet with a nutritionist and joining SparkPeople has helped a lot. - 4/11/2016 8:56:17 PM
  • There is no time to 'wait'. Be aggressive, eat right, and exercise. I noticed that being active lowers my Glucose significantly. - 1/14/2013 1:15:26 AM
  • PABLOO22
    I have just recently started experiencing neuropathy symptoms that are harsh and affecting sleep and general malaise..ay suggestions for homeopathic treatment,use of
    herbals..OTC treatment, what can offer a speedy response..thanks.
    .pd - 8/16/2012 8:52:58 AM
  • I do not indulge in any blame game that is useless. I have type 2 and I am knocking the day lights out of it. I am active and I now am watching what I eat. I now have awesome dr working is working with me. I am determined to keep complication away for a long as I live. that is a promise to me.Dana blame is useless, ugly and tacky. - 6/19/2012 8:09:01 PM
  • These are the reasons I exercise and eat right! Being diagnosed is difficult, but not the end :o) - 8/30/2011 9:40:04 AM
    Wow - that's some heavy bagggage you carry DanaSeilhan - hope your load lightens soon. Type 1 and Type 2 are different and need to be distinguished as such. BUT we are all in this together aren't we - that's why we're here at SP! - 7/26/2011 11:42:15 AM
  • and if you live long enough..well i heard no mention of autonomic neuropathy i kept things in order for years and now this is what i am faced with and i'm scared for sure
    the lady mary - 7/23/2011 12:47:42 PM
  • Dear Type 1 diabetics: Yes, we know you're embarrassed to be associated with a bunch of lazy slothy fat people, and you wish we'd all die and go away. But if I have to read one more comment from one of you going "ew fat people" (and whether you spell that out or not it's obvious, from your language, that that's what you're thinking), I think I'll scream.

    And by the way, there's some debate over whether type 1 can be prevented. It depends on what causes it, and it depends on how knowledgeable the doctor is who sees the patient who is developing it. The version of Type 1 where your islet cells up and die on you after years of Type 2 most certainly *can* be prevented--and the autoimmune version may even be preventable, they're working on that, but the knowledge they've uncovered so far is not widespread yet.

    THAT IS NOT TO SAY that anyone is blaming you if you're autoimmune Type 1. Of course you're not to blame. But who says Type 2s can be blamed either? First off they're advised to follow a diet that led directly TO their diabetes. Second off the experts continue to give them bad advice that does NOTHING to lower their blood sugar. You'd go diabetic too. This country has undergone a fifty-year-long enforced malnutrition experiment and here you go, it hasn't turned out so hot, has it?

    Three words for those trying to lower their blood sugar: LOWER YOUR CARBS. - 7/23/2011 12:56:08 AM
  • Very good info. However, I do wish that the articles on SP would make a strong clarification b/t Type 1 & Type 2 diabetes. I cringe when I read so many articles that just say "diabetes can be prevented". Type 2 may be prevented, but Type 1 happens. I was 4 at the age of diagnosis and I can promise my diet or lack of exercise had nothing to do with me becoming diabetic. Many Type 1 diabetics already carry a certain amount of guilt for something of which they had no control. also, some people develop complications despite vigorous health monitoring with diabetes. I just wanted people to understand there is a big difference. - 3/18/2011 3:02:33 PM
  • sooooo glad there will be a menu plan to track from soon my husband was just told he had type 2 diabetes we are now both following the diabetes way to eat as best as i understand it to be but will be HAPPY to help with recipies and new choices again THANKS SPARKS! - 9/20/2010 8:26:30 AM
  • Most helpful and beneficial is your summary of ways to recognize and control diabetes II. Thanks for an easy, informative reminder & referral avenue! - 2/14/2010 7:07:11 AM

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