Nerve damage is the most common complication of diabetes, affecting the feet and legs, digestion, blood vessels, and the heart. Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that can cause vision loss if not detected and treated. Foot problems can be serious and lead to amputation if left untreated. High blood sugar levels over time can damage blood vessels and lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Diabetes can also damage the kidneys over time, leading to diabetic nephropathy or kidney disease. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder in which the body mistakenly destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. This leads to a lack of insulin, causing excess blood sugar to float in the bloodstream, a condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis. Risk factors for type 1 diabetes include having a parent or sibling with type 1 diabetes, certain genes, and living further away from the equator.
Other complications of diabetes include microcirculation and blood macrocirculation alterations, dental diseases, reduced resistance to infections, macrosomia and other complications of childbirth in pregnant women with diabetes, and diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN). Controlling blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and blood fats can help reduce the risk of developing complications. Autophagy manipulation may also help reduce the progression of diabetes complications. With advances in treatment, people with diabetes are living longer with this condition, but it still contributes to increasing costs associated with diabetes.