TYPE 2 diabetes develops when the body doesn’t produce insulin properly. It’s a lifelong condition and treatment to control blood sugar levels is available, but if the signs and symptoms are ignored and it’s left untreated several complications can occur.
Diabetes can cause serious long-term health problems if left untreated or not treated properly.
The longer you have diabetes, and the less controlled your blood sugar, the higher the risk of complications.
Some of the complications can be disabling or even life-threatening.
The NHS outlines six complications of type 2 diabetes.
Heart disease and stroke
Prolonged, poorly controlled blood glucose levels increase the likelihood of atherosclerosis, where the blood vessels become clogged up and narrowed by fatty substances, according to the NHS.
It said: “This may result in poor blood supply to your heart, causing angina, which is a dull, heavy or tight pain in the chest.
“It also increases the chance that a blood vessel in your heart or brain will become blocked, leading to a heart attack or stroke.”
High blood glucose levels can damage the tiny blood vessels in your nerves.
The NHS says: “This can cause tingling or burning pain that speed from your fingers and toes up through your limbs. It can also cause numbness, which can lead to ulceration of the feet.”
This is when the retina, the light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the eye, becomes damaged.
The NHS explains: “Blood vessels in the retina can become blocked or leaky, or can grow haphazardly. This prevents light fully passing through to your retina. If it isn’t treated, it can damage your vision.”
The health body says: “If the small blood vessels of your kidney become blocked and leaky, your kidneys will work less efficiently.”
Around one in ten people with diabetes can get a foot ulcer, and this is a result of damage to the nerves of the foot and small nicks and cuts not being noticed.
The NHS advises: “If you have diabetes, look out for sores and cuts that don’t heal, puffiness or swelling, and skin that feels hot to the touch. You should also have your feet examined at least once a year.”
Men with diabetes, particularly those who smoke and have nerve and blood vessel damage, can experience erection problems.
Women with diabetes may feel a reduced sex drive, less pleasure from sex, vaginal dryness, less ability to orgasm and pain during sex.
The NHS says: “If you experience a lack of vaginal lubrication or find sex painful, you can use a vaginal lubricant or a water-based gel.”