Complications of Type 1 Diabetes

Complications of Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes has to be managed so it doesn’t damage your body over time.

Uncontrolled blood sugar can cause a variety of serious complications, such as:

  • Diabetes dramatically increases the risk of cardiovascular problems, including coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke, narrowing of the arteries, and high blood pressure.
  • Excess glucose can damage tiny blood vessels that supply blood to the nerves in the hands and feet. This nerve damage, known as diabetic neuropathy, can cause tingling, numbness, burning, or pain at the ends of the fingers and toes. If neuropathy is allowed to progress, a person may eventually lose all feeling in the affected limbs.
  • Nerve damage and poor blood flow in the feet lead to foot complications. People may injure their feet and not notice due to lack of sensation, and cuts and bruises heal poorly. In advanced cases, toe, foot, or leg amputation may be necessary.
  • Nerve damage in the gastrointestinal tract can lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.
  • In men, damage to small blood vessels in the penis can lead to erectile dysfunction.
  • Nephropathy is damage to blood vessels in the kidneys. Over time, nephropathy may lead to kidney failure. If that occurs, a person needs to go on dialysis or have a kidney transplant.
  • When diabetes damages the tiny blood vessels of the retina, it can cause a condition known as diabetic retinopathy, which potentially leads to blindness. Diabetes also increases the risk of cataracts and glaucoma.
  • Diabetes increases the risk of bacterial and fungal infections of the skin.
  • During pregnancy, high blood sugar levels can be dangerous for both mother and baby. Unless diabetes is carefully managed, there is an increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and birth defects. In the mother, complications may include high blood pressure and preeclampsia.


  1. ADA: