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Preventing Diabetes Problems

Diabetes can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease, vision problems, nerve damage, and kidney disease. Learn more about preventing these diabetes problems and managing your diabetes.

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Heart Disease & Stroke

Diabetes can damage blood vessels and lead to heart disease and stroke. You can do a lot to prevent heart disease and stroke by managing your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels; and not smoking. Controlling your weight and being physically active are also important.

Low Blood Glucose (Hypoglycemia)

Hypoglycemia occurs when your blood glucose drops too low. Certain diabetes medicines make low blood glucose more likely. You can prevent hypoglycemia by following your meal plan and balancing your physical activity, food, and medicines. Testing your blood glucose regularly can also help prevent hypoglycemia.

Nerve Damage (Diabetic Neuropathy)

Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage that can result from diabetes. Different types of nerve damage affect different parts of your body. Managing your diabetes can help prevent nerve damage that affects your feet and limbs, and organs such as your heart.

Kidney Disease

Diabetic kidney disease, also called diabetic nephropathy, is kidney disease caused by diabetes. You can help protect your kidneys by managing your diabetes, meeting your blood pressure goals, and getting a urine test every year to check for early kidney disease.

Foot Problems

Diabetes can cause nerve damage and poor blood flow, which can lead to serious foot problems. Taking care of your feet is important if you have diabetes. Foot care includes checking your feet every day, wearing shoes that fit well, and getting a complete foot exam every year.

Eye Disease

Diabetes can damage your eyes and lead to eye problems such as low vision and blindness. The best way to prevent diabetes-related eye disease is to manage your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol; and to not smoke. Also, have a dilated eye exam once a year. Finding eye disease early can help prevent vision loss.

Gum Disease & Other Dental Problems

Diabetes can lead to problems in your mouth, such as infection, gum disease, or dry mouth. To help keep your mouth healthy, manage your blood glucose, brush your teeth twice a day, see your dentist at least once a year, and don’t smoke.

Sexual & Urologic Problems

Having diabetes can increase your chance of having bladder problems and changes in sexual function. Following your diabetes management plan is important to help prevent or delay sexual and urologic problems.

Depression & Diabetes

Depression is common among people with a chronic, or long-term, illness such as diabetes. Depression can be treated so tell your doctor if you feel sad, hopeless, or anxious.

Cancer & Diabetes

Diabetes is linked to some types of cancer. Many risk factors for cancer and for diabetes are the same. Not smoking and getting recommended cancer screenings can help prevent cancer.

Dementia & Diabetes

High blood glucose increases the chance of developing dementia. Tell your doctor if you are forgetful because dementia can make it hard to manage your diabetes.

Sleep Apnea & Diabetes

People who have sleep apnea—when you stop breathing for short periods during sleep—are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Sleep apnea also can make diabetes worse. Treatment for sleep apnea can help.

This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.

This information is not copyrighted. The NIDDK encourages people to share this content freely.