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Type 1 Diabetes: Living With Complications - Topic Overview

Is this topic for you?

This topic is about complications from diabetes, such as eye, kidney, heart, nerve, or blood vessel disease. If you need other diabetes information, see:

  • Type 1 Diabetes, if you want to learn about type 1 diabetes.
  • Type 1 Diabetes: Recently Diagnosed, if you have been told recently that you or your child has type 1 diabetes.
  • Type 1 Diabetes: Living With the Disease, if you or your teen has type 1 diabetes. If you have not read the topic Type 1 Diabetes: Recently Diagnosed, you may want to read it first.
  • Type 1 Diabetes: Children Living With the Disease, if your child age 11 or younger has type 1 diabetes. If you have not read the topic Type 1 Diabetes: Recently Diagnosed, you may want to read it first.
  • Diabetic Retinopathy, Diabetic Nephropathy, or Diabetic Neuropathy, if you want more information on these complications of diabetes.

What is type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong disease that develops when the pancreas stops making insulin. Your body needs insulin to let sugar (glucose) move from the blood into the body's cells, where it can be used for energy or stored for later use.

If sugar cannot move from the blood into the cells, your blood sugar gets too high and your cells cannot work right. High blood sugar can harm your blood vessels and nerves and lead to problems with your eyes, heart, feet, kidneys, and other areas of the body. These problems are called complications.

What are the complications from diabetes?

The complications from diabetes are:

  • Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). It can cause coronary artery disease, peripheral arterial disease, stroke, or heart attack.
  • Diabetic retinopathy. This is a type of eye disease that can lead to vision loss.
  • Diabetic nephropathy. This kidney disease has no early symptoms, but it can lead to kidney failure.
  • Diabetic neuropathy. This is a nerve disease that can affect your internal organs as well as your ability to sense touch and pain, especially in your feet. It can also cause sexual problems in both men and women.

What is it like to live with the complications?

Diabetes and its complications can change your life. Living with health problems caused by diabetes can be a constant struggle. It is a lot of work to monitor your health (such as foot care), keep up with your doctor appointments, and control your blood sugar. You may not always do everything exactly right, and it is normal to feel frustrated and sad at times. But don't give up. People with health problems from diabetes can still live full lives. If you are having trouble coping, talk to your doctor. Getting counseling or joining a diabetes support group may also help.

What are the symptoms of diabetes complications?


WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 07, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

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Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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