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Health problems caused by type 2 diabetes

You need to watch your health and have regular check-ups if you have type 2 diabetes because it can lead to:

  • heart disease and stroke
  • loss of feeling and pain (nerve damage) - causing problems with sex
  • foot problems - sores and infections
  • vision loss and blindness
  • miscarriage and stillbirth

Controlling your blood sugar level and having regular diabetes check-ups is the best way to lower your risk of complications.

Getting your heart checked

You should have your blood fats (cholesterol) and blood pressure checked at least once a year. Diabetes increases your risk of heart disease and stroke so it’s important high blood pressure and high cholesterol is spotted and treated early.

If you’re already being treated for high cholesterol and high blood pressure, keep taking your medecine.

Diabetes also worsens the effects of smoking on your heart. Get help to quit smoking.

Loss of feeling

You should let your GP or diabetes nurse know if you notice any changes in your body.

Diabetes can damage your nerves (neuropathy). This can affect any part of your body, causing:

  • numbness
  • pain or tingling
  • problems with sex
  • constipation or diarrhoea

Early treatment can prevent nerve damage getting worse.

Looking after your feet

You should check your feet every day.

Diabetes can reduce the blood supply to your feet and cause a loss of feeling. This means:

  • foot injuries don’t heal well
  • you may not notice if your foot is sore or injured

These can lead to ulcers and infections.

Simple things are important, like:

  • keeping feet clean and dry to avoid infection
  • trying not to go barefoot outside to avoid niks and cuts
  • wearing shoes that fit well

Speak to your GP or diabetes nurse if you notice any changes in your feet, including:

  • cuts, cracks or blisters
  • pain or tingling
  • numb feet

Diabetes UK has advice on how to check your feet

Your feet should also be checked every year by your GP, diabetes nurse or podiatrist

Sores or infections that aren’t treated early can lead to gangrene. More than 135 amputations are carried out every week in the UK due to diabetes.

Checking your eyes

Your eyes should be checked every year for damaged blood vessels, which can cause sight problems (diabetic retinopathy) and blindness.

Diabetes eye checks can detect damage before it affects your sight. Treating damaged blood vessels early can prevent sight problems.

Speak to your GP immediately if you notice changes to your sight, including:

  • blurred vision, especially at night
  • shapes floating in your sight (floaters)
  • sensitivity to light

Pregnancy and diabetes

Speak to your GP or care team if you’re thinking of having a baby.

You can have a safe pregnancy and birth if you have type 2 diabetes. You will need to take extra precautions and have more appointments before and during pregnancy.