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Sanofi Canada

2905 Place Louis-R.-Renaud
Laval, Quebec, H7V 0A3

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Managing Your Diabetes to Prevent Complications

An important part of managing diabetes is thinking about long-term complications. High blood glucose levels can damage small blood vessels and nerves.


Diabetic peripheral neuropathy: nerve damage in the hands and feet

If a person with diabetes has high blood glucose for a long time, it can cause damage to the peripheral nerves, which are the nerves that go to the arms, hands, legs, and feet. Damage to these nerves can result in a loss of feeling in these areas of the body. People with diabetic peripheral neuropathy don't have normal feeling in these areas of the body, so they often do not notice small cuts, sores and blisters. When left untreated, these injuries can become infected and, in very extreme cases, may require amputation.

Depression, anxiety, and low mood

Depression is more common in people with diabetes than it is in the general population. Depression is associated with difficulties in managing diabetes. If you think you might be experiencing depression, or if someone in your family or a friend thinks you might be, talk to a member of your healthcare team. They may suggest a referral to a therapist.

Kidney disease

The kidneys are the organs that are responsible for filtering your blood, controlling the amount of fluid and salts in the blood and sending waste into the urine to be eliminated from the body. If blood glucose and blood pressure are too high, over time, the kidneys can become damaged. This is called diabetic nephropathy. You can try to prevent or delay this with good diabetes management, and good blood pressure control.

Erectile dysfunction (ED)

Erectile dysfunction is defined as not being able to achieve or maintain an erection that is satisfactory for sexual activity. It may develop in men with diabetes for two reasons: (1) damage caused to the walls of the blood vessels, affects circulation and blood flow to the penis, and (2) nerve damage that can affect erection quality. About 50% of men with diabetes will experience erectile dysfunction within 10 years of being diagnosed with diabetes. Men are at greater risk of developing erectile dysfunction if they have:

  • A longer duration of diabetes
  • A poor blood glucose control
  • A history of smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease

Don't be shy. Talk to your doctor or diabetes educators if you have ED. They can suggest ways to help you.

Eye problems

Over time, diabetes can damage the small blood vessels at the back of the eye (the retina), leading to problems with vision. This is called diabetic retinopathy, and it is the most common cause of blindness in people under the age of 65. You can prevent the development of diabetic retinopathy by keeping your blood glucose levels under control. To learn more about maintaining healthy eyes, read this article by the Canadian Diabetes Association.

Cardiovascular disease

People with diabetes are at very high risk of developing cardiovascular disease (another name for heart disease) and stroke. Heart disease tends to develop 10 to 12 years earlier in people with diabetes compared to people without diabetes. The good news is you can significantly lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and improve your overall health by controlling your blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol and by quitting smoking. Many hospital centres have quit-smoking groups. Talk to your healthcare team.