Possible Complications of Diabetes

There are a number of possible complications of diabetes due to the fact that excess glucose can end up in certain organs, including kidneys, nerves and blood vessels, damaging them over time. So, uncontrolled blood sugar can lead to serious complications.

Cardiovascular disease

Studies have shown that the people with diabetes are 2 to 4 times more likely than others to develop cardiovascular disease (angina, heart attack, stroke). For example, 67% of men and 57% of women with diabetes will experience heart disease after the age of 50 and the risk of death from heart disease is 3.5 times higher for diabetics than non-diabetics. People with diabetes should closely monitor their blood pressure and cholesterol to avoid the worst. 

Nerve damage

Elevated blood sugar levels can have a devastating effect on your nervous system and cause nerve damage, especially in your legs and feet (peripheral neuropathy). This can lead to numbness, tingling, prickling, or even amputation. This is why it is important to learn how to balance your blood sugar every day

Foot problems

Diabetes causes 50% of all non-traumatic amputations. When your nerves are damaged, they become less sensitive, which means you are less likely to notice a foot injury. This injury could become infected, turn gangrenous and require amputation. So, people with diabetes should check their feet every day (using a mirror or asking someone to examine the soles of their feet), meet with a doctor, foot care nurse or podiatrist every year (or more often if peripheral neuropathy has been diagnosed), and follow daily foot hygiene measures (filing toenails, not walking barefoot and avoiding soaking feet for long periods of time). It is also recommended that people with diabetes wear white or light coloured well-fitting cotton socks without elastic bands that cut off circulation or stitching that puts pressure on the skin. Socks should be changed every day, washed inside out and tumble-dried. Specially tailored cotton socks, which are not tight on the legs and favour the evacuation of humidity, can be found at pharmacies. Lastly, to relieve foot pain and to hydrate your feet, foot (and hand) creams are also available. Do seek the advice of your pharmacist. 

Kidney damage

Since sugar in urine encourages bacterial growth, people who have uncontrolled diabetes are two times more likely to develop urinary tract infections. Nephropathy (damage to kidney filtration) affects up to 50% of diabetics in their lifetime. It is one of the most common kidney complications for diabetics. In fact, diabetes accounts for 40% of cases of kidney failure, sometimes requiring dialysis to eliminate waste. 

Eye problems

Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults under the age of 65. This is because excess blood sugar can thicken and harden blood vessels in the eyes. If blood vessels cannot function correctly, there could be complications for the retina (retinopathy), lens (cataracts), iris (rubeosis iridis) and internal eye pressure (glaucoma). These eye diseases can lead to blindness if blood sugar is not kept under control.

Controlling blood sugar is crucial to prevent eye problems. Moreover, regular eye exams are recommended to assess eye health.

Other complications

Diabetes can also cause other problems, such as sleep apnea, capsulitis (inflammation in the shoulder joint), periodontitis (gum disease), yeast and urinary tract infections, and erectile dysfunction. Thankfully, by managing the disease well, you can greatly reduce the risks of developing complications or dying. 

Your pharmacist affiliated with Accès pharma is there to help you take control of your condition. They can also support you by adjusting your medication, following up on your treatment and offering you personalized advice. Thanks to the services offered by your pharmacist, you can better control your blood sugar and reduce the risks of complications.  

This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice and pharmacist-owners affiliated with Accès pharma cannot be held responsible for this information. The information was true and accurate at the time of publication, but it is subject to change.

Frequently asked questions

You got more questions?

  • There are three main types of diabetes screening tests: fasting blood glucose tests, hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) tests, and oral glucose tolerance tests (OGTT).

    For monitoring tests, there's self-monitoring of blood glucose, measurement of HbA1c, and tests for kidney and lipid function.

    For more information, come see us!

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  • A blood glucose test serves to capture a moment in a larger context: it instantly shows how high your blood glucose level is. Going forward, close and regular monitoring will allow you to understand the impact had by your activities, diet, medication and state of health — in other words, your entire lifestyle.

    With careful monitoring, we can help you to adapt your lifestyle and medication in order to best control your blood glucose.

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  • Insulin

    Insulin is mostly taken by people living with type 1 diabetes. It must be refrigerated prior to opening. Once open, insulin may be stored at room temperature for one month. Extreme temperatures (frost, sun, etc.) must be avoided.


    This emergency solution is given by injection or administered intranasally to people who are treated with insulin and are suffering from severe hypoglycemia with loss of consciousness. If a person treated with glucagon remains unconscious 10 to 15 minutes following its administration, dial 911.

    Antihyperglycemic agents

    These medications serve to lower blood glucose levels. To tackle a hypoglycemia event, you should keep a source of fast-absorbing carbohydrates ready at hand.

    Hyperglycemic agents

    Certain medications (e.g., prednisone or cortisone) raise blood glucose. Their administration and cessation must be supervised by a healthcare professional—such as your Accès pharma pharmacist.


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