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Long Term Complications of Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a long-term (chronic) condition. It results in excessive glucose circulating in the bloodstream. High glucose levels may cause disorders of the circulatory, nervous and immune systems. No treatment exists for type 2 diabetes. But type 2 diabetes management is possible by:

  • losing weight
  • eating well
  • exercising

If diet and exercise are not sufficient to manage blood sugar, diabetes drugs or insulin therapy also works.


Signs of type 2 diabetes often develop slowly. A person might be living with type 2 diabetes for years and might be not knowing it. When signs are present, they might include:

  • Increased hunger
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Hazy vision
  • Frequent infections
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Slow-healing sores

Risk factors

Factors that might increase the risk of type 2 diabetes include:

  • Age. The risk of type 2 diabetes increases with person’s age, after age 45.
  • Weight. Being overweight or obese is a major risk.
  • Family history. Risk of type 2 diabetes increases if parent or sibling suffers from type 2 diabetes.
  • Inactivity. The less active a person is, the higher is the risk. Physical activity aids control weight, utilizes sugar as energy. And, it also makes the body cells more sensitive to insulin.
  • Blood lipid levels. An increased risk relates to low levels of HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides. HDL is the "good" cholesterol.
  • Pregnancy-related risks. Risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases in case of gestational diabetes. That is, when a female is pregnant or if she gives birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds (4 kilograms).
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome. Having PCOS increases the risk of diabetes. PCOS is a common condition in females. In this, there are irregular menstrual periods, excess hair growth and obesity.


Type 2 diabetes affects major organs. These may include heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys. Also, factors that enhance the risk of diabetes are risk factors for other serious chronic diseases. Diabetes management and blood sugar control helps reduce the risk for these complications.

Potential diabetes complications and frequent comorbidities may include:

  • Heart and blood vessel disorders. Diabetes relates to an increased risk of heart ailments, stroke. And, also high blood pressure and narrowing of blood vessels (atherosclerosis).
  • Nerve damage (neuropathy) in limbs. High blood glucose over time may damage or destroy nerves. This may cause tingling, numbness, burning, pain or loss of feeling. This generally starts form the tips of the toes or fingers and spreads upward.
  • Kidney disease. Diabetes might cause chronic kidney disease. It is an irreversible end-stage kidney disease. This problem may need dialysis or a kidney transplant.
  • Eye damage. Diabetes enhances the risk of severe eye diseases. These may include cataracts and glaucoma. They may damage the blood vessels of the retina, causing blindness.
  • Skin conditions. Diabetes might increase susceptibility to skin problems, including bacterial and fungal infections.
  • Slow healing. Left unmanaged, cuts and blisters may turn serious infections. These may heal poorly. Serious damage may require toe, foot or leg amputation.
  • Hearing impairment. Hearing issues are more common in diabetic patients.
  • Dementia. Type 2 diabetes appear to increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease. Poor glucose control associates with a more-rapid decline in memory and other thinking skills.


Healthy lifestyle choices prevent type 2 diabetes. In case of a prediabetes diagnosis, lifestyle changes might slow or stop the progression to diabetes. A healthy lifestyle includes:

  • Consuming healthy foods. Opt for foods lower in fat and calories and higher in fiber. Concentrate upon fruits, veggies, and whole grains.
  • Getting active. Go for 150 or more minutes a week of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity. These activities may include brisk walk, bicycling, running or swimming.
  • Losing weight. Prediabetes does not progress to type 2 diabetes if a modest amount of weight is lost. If a person is prediabetic, losing 7% to 10% of body weight may lower the risk of diabetes.
  • Avoiding inactivity for long periods. Sitting still for long time may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Try to wake up every 30 minutes and move around for some minutes.

For prediabetics, metformin is an oral diabetes medicine. It is advisable to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. This is generally advisable for older adults who are obese. Also, for those who are unable to reduce their blood glucose levels with lifestyle changes.

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