The 4 Most Common Complications of Diabetes

Since today is World Diabetes Day, it is especially fitting to talk about the serious — and common — complications this disease can cause.

Diabetes affects the blood, but its complications are not limited to blood-related issues, such as hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Blood nourishes every cell of the body, and therefore diabetes can disrupt the proper functioning of virtually every organ.

Here are the four most common complications associated with this disease.

  1. Heart disease and stroke

A diabetic is nearly twice as likely to die of heart disease or stroke as a nondiabetic. This is because the high blood sugar levels associated with diabetes damage blood vessels and nerves, including the blood vessels of the heart and the nerves that control it. The longer person has diabetes — particularly if the diabetes is out of control — the higher the chances of heart disease.

  1. Foot problems

Diabetes reduces circulation, and reduced blood flow means that infections take longer to heal. This is especially true in the farthest extremities: the feet. In some cases, infections do not heal all, leading to gangrene. For this reason, diabetes is the leading cause of lower limb amputation.

  1. Kidney disease

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease, which affects approximately 24% of adult diabetics. Diabetes accounts for approximately 60% of all cases of kidney failure.

  1. Eye problems

If blood sugar levels are too high, they can cause swelling in the eyes, causing blurred vision. This issue resolves on its own once blood sugar levels return to normal. However, if blood sugar levels remain high, more serious, long-term complications, such as glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy, can occur. Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss in diabetics.

While these complications are serious, there is reason for hope. Keeping blood sugar levels under control mitigates much of the damage associated with diabetes. And since both smoking and diabetes affect circulation, diabetics who smoke can improve their health significantly by quitting the habit.

Want to know your risk of Diabetes? Take this online test, available in a variety of languages, sponsored by the International Diabetes Federation.

Diabetes affects 25% of the over-65 population. At Hamilton Grove Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Hamilton, NJ, our care programs are designed specifically to meet the unique needs and interests of seniors and long-term care patients. We emphasize restorative care, maximizing each patient’s potential to regain and maintain function and mobility.

Part of our success is due to the care we take with our residents’ nutrition. Our world-class culinary team offers a tempting variety of meal selections that are produced under the supervision of a registered dietitian. The result: well-balanced, health-conscious meals that are sure to please even the most discerning palate. And, of course, special dietary needs are gladly accommodated.

Read our reviews on,, and to hear what our residents and their families have to say.

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