Diabetes Complications

Over a period of time, individuals living with diabetes can develop long-term complications; the longer a person has diabetes and the less controlled their blood sugar is, the more increased their risk of complications. Our team of diabetes specialists and other UI Health teams work together to help prevent and or treat these complications. Below are some of the most common diabetic complications that our specialists treat.

Neuropathy (Nerve Damage)

Diabetic neuropathy is a nerve-damaging disorder and the most common complication that affects most patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The excess sugar in the blood can damage the walls of the blood vessels that support the nerves, specifically in the legs. This can result in tingling, numbness, burning, or pain that usually begins at the tips of the toes or fingers that slowly spreads up.

If left untreated, all sense of feeling in the affected limbs can be lost. Damage caused to other nerve, such as those related to digestion, can result in problems with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation. In some cases, with men, it can lead to erectile dysfunction.

Nephropathy (Kidney Damage)

Diabetic nephropathy, also known as diabetic kidney disease, is progressive damage to the kidneys caused by diabetes. Diabetes can damage the kidney’s fragile filtering system, and severe damage can lead to kidney failure or irreversible kidney disease, which may require dialysis and or a kidney transplant.

Symptoms can take 5–10 years to appear after the kidney damage has already begun. These late symptoms include:

  • Severe fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Overall feeling of illness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Leg swelling
  • Irritated skin

Retinopathy (Eye Damage)

Diabetic retinopathy, also known as diabetic eye disease, is a complication caused by damage to the blood vessels of the retina tissue at the back of the eye. Although at first diabetic retinopathy may not have immediate damage to vision, if untreated, it can lead to serious vision conditions, including cataracts, glaucoma, and blindness.