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Diabetes Health Center

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How Does Diabetes Affect Your Body?

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It can take work to get your diabetes under control, but the results are worth it.

If you don't make the effort to get a handle on it, you could set yourself up for a host of complications. Diabetes can take a toll on nearly every organ in your body, including the:

Recommended Related to Diabetes

Lower Your Risk of Nerve Pain and Damage From Diabetes

If you have diabetes, chances are good that you already have some form of nerve pain or nerve damage, called diabetic neuropathy. "People with diabetes have about a 60% chance of getting neuropathy of any kind," says Dace L. Trence, MD, an endocrinologist and director of the Diabetes Care Center at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. "It's probably an equal risk of getting neuropathy with type 1 and type 2 diabetes." You may have tingling, pain, or numbness in your feet and hands...

Read the Lower Your Risk of Nerve Pain and Damage From Diabetes article > >

  • Heart and blood vessels
  • Eyes
  • Kidneys
  • Nerves
  • Gums and teeth

Heart and Blood Vessels

Heart disease and blood vessel disease are common problems for many people who don’t have their diabetes under control. You're twice as likely to have heart problems and strokes as people who don’t have the condition.

Blood vessel damage or nerve damage may also cause foot problems that, in rare cases, can lead to amputations. More than half the legs and feet removed are not lost because of an injury, but as a result of this disease.

Symptoms: You might not notice warning signs until you have a heart attack or stroke. Problems with large blood vessels in your legs can cause leg cramps, changes in skin color, and less sensation.

The good news: Many studies show that controlling your diabetes can help you avoid these problems, or stop them from getting worse if you have them.


Diabetes is the leading cause of new vision loss in the U.S. in adults 20 to 74 years old. It can lead to eye problems, some of which can cause blindness if not treated:

  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts
  • Diabetic retinopathy

Symptoms: Vision problems, sight loss, or pain in your eye if you have diabetes-related eye disease.

The good news: Studies show that regular eye exams and timely treatment of these kinds of problems could prevent up to 90% of diabetes-related blindness.

Kidney Disease

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure in adults in the U.S., accounting for almost half of new cases.

Symptoms: You might not notice any problems with early diabetes-related kidney disease. In later stages it can make your legs and feet swell.

The good news:Drugs that lower blood pressure (even if you don't have high blood pressure) can cut your risk of kidney failure by 33%.

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