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Type 1 Diabetes - What Happens

It's not possible for injected insulin to work as well as a normal pancreas, so you will have high and low blood sugar levels from time to time.

If your blood sugar stays above your target range for a long time, it can damage many parts of your body camera.gif.

Eyes

High blood sugar levels can lead to vision loss and blindness (diabetic retinopathy).

To learn more, see the topic Diabetic Retinopathy.

Having diabetes also puts you at risk for cataracts or glaucoma.

Feet and skin

You may have less feeling in your feet, which means that you can injure your feet and not know it. Common infections from blisters, ingrown toenails, small cuts, or other problems can quickly become more serious when you have diabetes.

If you get serious infections or bone and joint deformities, you may need surgery (even amputation) to treat those problems.

actionset.gif Diabetes: Taking Care of Your Feet
Checklist for Daily Foot Exams
Care of Your Skin When You Have Diabetes

Heart and blood vessels

High blood sugar damages the lining of large blood vessels. This can lead to stroke, heart attack, or peripheral arterial disease.

Nerves

High blood sugar levels can damage nerves throughout your body. This damage is called diabetic neuropathy. There are three kinds of diabetic neuropathy:

To learn more, see the topic Diabetic Neuropathy.

Kidneys

The kidneys have many tiny blood vessels that filter waste from your blood. High blood sugar can destroy these blood vessels. You won't have any symptoms of kidney damage until the problem is severe. Then you may notice swelling in your feet or legs or all over your body.

To learn more, see the topic Diabetic Nephropathy.

Hearing

High blood sugar can damage the small blood vessels and nerves in the ear, causing hearing loss.

Teeth

Gum disease can make it harder to keep blood sugar in a target range. And high blood sugar can cause gum disease, loss of teeth, and healing problems in the mouth.

Mental health

The stress of dealing with diabetes or the effects that diabetes has on your body can lead to depression.

Being depressed can make it hard to eat healthy foods and to find the motivation to exercise. All of these things lead to higher blood sugar. By getting help for depression, you'll feel better and may find it easier to stay motivated.

Interactive Tool: Are You Depressed?
1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 28, 2014
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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Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

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.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

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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