Prevent Diabetes Complications by Learning To Recognize Them

How to Recognize and Prevent Diabetes Complications.

A good way to prevent diabetes complications is by learning to recognize the complications of diabetes in yourself and others. When you can do this, you most probably can save a life. Sometimes diabetes goes unnoticed, and until there’s a complication, the person doesn’t know he or she has diabetes.

If a shrewd friend can see some symptoms before the complications hit, it may give the diabetic an edge on treatment. It’s also a good idea to learn some of the signs and symptoms of complications and how to stave them off in yourself.

Here are some tips to help you prevent and recognize diabetes complications.


There are some specific actions you can take to help prevent diabetes complications and keep them from developing.

1. Don’t smoke

no smoking sign - Prevent Diabetes ComplicationsSmoking is one of the worst things a diabetic can do. First of all, smoking constricts blood vessels, further complicating the compromised circulation that comes with diabetes anyway. Secondly, smoking increases diabetics’ risk of cardiovascular disease and even vision problems. So a good step toward staving off these complications is to stop smoking (or don’t start!).

2. Take your medication regularly

To help your body stay on an even keel, it’s a good idea to take your prescribed medication as directed. Don’t self-medicate. If you want to change medications or try something different, make sure you do so under the care of a professional.

3. Regular check-ups

Getting regular physicals is important, but so are check-ups specifically for your diabetes. Your vision in particular should be monitored to prevent vision complications such as glaucoma later on.

4. Maintain a healthy weight

Eating a healthy, diabetic-specific diet and getting enough regular exercise is key to maintaining a healthy weight. You don’t want to crash-diet, but getting on track with the right foods and activity level is a good place to start.


Recognizing complications early can help, whether it’s an urgent, short-term complication or a long-term one. Here are some tips.

Sources say that the body parts most affected by diabetes are:

  • Eyes
  • Kidneys
  • Nerves
  • Heart and blood vessels
  • Gums
  • Feet

Watching for abnormalities in these areas of the body is the first step toward recognizing any complications in that area.

1. Neuropathy

Burning, tingling sensations in the hands and feet, sharp night-time pain, and difficulty walking are signs of diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage). Swollen, red feet are also a sign of serious nerve complications.

2. Vision problems

If you have blurry vision, sudden losses of vision, what seems like flashing light or grey, drifting films across your eyes, it could be a sign of diabetic vision complications. Pain and pressure in the eye are also symptoms.

3. Kidney complications

Diabetics are prone to kidney problems. Signs of kidney complications include fatigue, poor concentration, painful urination, and/or edema (puffy swelling) in the abdomen, around the eyes, or in the ankles and feet.

4. High and low blood sugar

Symptoms of very low blood sugar may include nausea, extreme fatigue, confusion, emotional imbalance, and ravenous hunger. High blood sugar may cause excessive thirst, headache, and increased, frequent urination. High and low blood sugar need to be addressed immediately.

Preventing Diabetes Complications

Heart attacks and strokes are the most common cause of death for people with type 2 diabetes-- that's why taking care of your heart is so important. This video explains why it's important to monitor and manage your blood pressure. Be smart and watch your heart! To keep learning go to!


Managing your blood pressure is an important part of being healthy with diabetes. While having high blood sugar over a long period of time does cause complications, there’s an ever greater threat: high blood pressure. Having untreated high blood pressure makes a person more likely to have kidney disease, a heart attack, or a stroke. In fact, heart attacks and strokes kill more people with diabetes than anything else does.

The best way to take care of your heart is to manage your blood pressure. The blood pressure target for people with diabetes is less than 140 over 80. Of course, your doctor may want your numbers lower if you have other health issues beyond diabetes, so be sure to ask what your personal blood pressure target is. Getting readings consistently above your target means that you’re at greater risk for a stroke or a heart attack.

The good news is that it’s easy to check your blood pressure. Someone will do it every time you visit your doctor, but you can also check it yourself and it’s a good idea to check it on different days. Blood pressure is a number that rises with stress so make sure you are relaxed when you check your blood pressure and don’t let the numbers stress you out.

A home arm or wrist monitor are both inexpensive and easy to use. Just be sure to read the instructions that come with your monitor to make sure you are using it right. Also most pharmacies and stores like Walmart and Target have machines you can use for free.

It’s a good idea to keep a log of your blood pressure readings. We have one on our website you can use for free. Now, no two blood pressure readings will ever be the same—but by testing a couple of times in a week and filling out the log you’ll be able to see the normal range of your blood pressure and that will help your doctor a lot. Knowing what your blood pressure is like when you’re not in his or her office, can help your doctor choose the best treatment for you if your pressure is above target.

If your blood pressure is high, you might have to take a medication for it, or maybe even several medicines. But medicine isn’t the only way to lower your blood pressure. Cutting down on the salt in your food can go a long way to lowering your blood pressure and keeping it in target. We talked about how to read food labels a few weeks ago. Sodium is another word for salt and it’s shown on those labels, too, and you’d be surprised how much salt is in a lot of packaged foods. People with diabetes are told to keep their daily sodium to 2,300 milligrams or less. Ask your doctor to see if that’s the right target for you. The DASH eating plan is an excellent resource for finding ways to decrease your sodium and add flavor to the foods you love.
Cutting down on salt, exercising and losing some weight, 5 or 10 pounds, are all great ways to improve your blood pressure.

So, let’s summarize-- Blood pressure is just as important for people with diabetes as blood sugar. Some of the same things that you do to lower your blood sugar can help lower your blood pressure. And just like sugar, you need to monitor your pressure and do whatever is necessary to keep it where it belongs.

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