Long-term complications of diabetes develop gradually but they can eventually be disabling or even life-threatening. Some potential complications of diabetes include:
Heart and blood vessel disease. The risk of stroke is two to four times higher, and the death rate from heart disease is two to four times higher for people with diabetes than for people without the disease.
Nerve damage (neuropathy). Damage to the blood vessels that feed the nerves themselves can cause tingling, numbness, burning or pain that usually begins at the tips of the toes or fingers. Damage to the nerves that control digestion can cause problems with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. For men, erectile dysfunction may be an issue.
Kidney damage (nephropathy). Severe damage can lead to kidney failure or irreversible end-stage kidney disease, requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Eye damage. Diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the retina (diabetic retinopathy), potentially leading to blindness.
Foot damage. Nerve damage in the feet or poor blood flow to the feet increases the risk of various foot complications. Left untreated, cuts and blisters can become serious infections. Severe damage might require toe, foot or even leg amputation.
Skin and mouth conditions. More susceptible to skin problems, including bacterial and fungal infections.
Osteoporosis. Lower than normal bone mineral density, increasing your risk of osteoporosis.
Alzheimer’s disease. Type 2 diabetes may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
Hearing problems. Diabetes can also lead to hearing impairment.