Complications of Type 2 Diabetes

Long term, inadequately managed type 2 diabetes can cause a variety of complications:

  • Diabetes increases the risk of cardiovascular problems, including coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke, narrowing of the arteries, and high blood pressure.
  • Over time, excess glucose damages 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. 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.
  • Damage to blood vessels in the kidneys, known as nephropathy, may lead to kidney failure. If that occurs, a person needs to go on dialysis or have a kidney transplant.
  • Damage to tiny blood vessels of the retina causes 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 skin infections.
  • During pregnancy, high blood sugar levels can be dangerous for both mother and baby.


  1. Eureka Alert: