Long term diabetic complications are the result of one or more parts of your body becoming damaged as a result of diabetes.
Long term complications need not be inevitable and research indicates that it is possible to minimise complications or avoid or prevent them altogether.
What are the main long term complications?
The most common long term complications of diabetes include:
- Heart disease – known as cardiovascular disease
- Kidney damage – known as nephropathy
- Eye damage – known as retinopathy
- Nerve damage – known as neuropathy
- Limb amputations – particularly lower leg amputations
How can I prevent these complications?
On our complications pages we include statistics about how common complications are.
Some of the figures may appear worryingly high.
However, the truth is that there are a lot of people who have, for one reason or another, not had the education needed to get their diabetes under control.
There are steps we can take to prevent, delay or minimise the effect of complications.
- Keeping blood sugar under control
- Getting regular physical activity
- Eating a healthy diet
- Attending all your diabetic reviews and screenings
- Cutting down or avoiding smoking
- Cutting down or avoiding alcohol
Keep your blood sugars under control
This one may come across as much easier said than done but any positive change in your control should help to improve your chances of avoiding complications.
There are a number of ways that can help with improving blood sugar control.
Testing your blood glucose, recording your test results in a blood glucose diary and then actively looking to understand the results tends is an important part of better controlling your diabetes.
If you are not prescribed test strips, see our guide on access to testing strips
Diabetes education courses are available to help people with diabetes get better control. Speak to your doctor about being put onto a course.
The Diabetes Forum is another great option, giving you the chance pick up on the many years of valuable experience of others with diabetes.
Attend reviews and screenings
Reviews and screenings are an essential part of avoiding complications. Complications are easier to treat in their earlier stages so the sooner evidence of complications can be spotted, the better your chances of a good outcome will be.
- Read more on diabetes health checks
As well as attending all your screenings, it’s important to report any symptoms that could be indicative of diabetic complications to your doctor.
This could include any problems with your vision, loss of sensitivity in your touch, any sensations of pain or any damage or blisters on your feet.
Avoid smoking and drinking
Get regular physical activity
Physical activity can help to improve insulin sensitivity and is thought to have a host of other health benefits for the body.
We’re advised to get at least two and a half hours of physical activity into our week, or at least one and a half hours of strenuous activity.
Eat a healthy diet
In picking a healthy diet to prevent complications, it’s advisable to pick fresh foods in preference to processed food and base meals around fruit and vegetables.
- For more healthy eating tips, read our Foods which help diabetes guide