Diabetes can also damage your kidneys and affect their ability to filter waste products from your blood. If your doctor detects microalbuminuria, or elevated amounts of protein in your urine, it could be a sign that your kidneys aren’t functioning properly.
Kidney disease related to diabetes is called diabetic nephropathy. This condition doesn’t show symptoms until its later stages. If you have diabetes, your doctor will evaluate you for nephropathy to help prevent irreversible kidney damage or kidney failure.
Diabetes raises your risk of developing high blood pressure, which puts further strain on your heart. When you have high blood glucose levels, this can contribute to the formation of fatty deposits in blood vessel walls. Over time, it can restrict blood flow and increase the risk of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the blood vessels.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, diabetes doubles your risk of heart disease and stroke. In addition to monitoring and controlling your blood glucose, good eating habits and regular exercise can help lower the risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
You should also consider quitting smoking if you’re at risk for diabetes. Diabetes and smoking are a very bad mix. It increases your risk for cardiovascular problems and restricted blood flow.
Lack of blood flow can eventually affect your hands and feet and cause pain while you’re walking. This is called intermittent claudication. The narrowed blood vessels in your legs and feet may also cause problems in those areas. For example, your feet may feel cold or you may be unable to feel heat due to lack of sensation. This condition is known as peripheral neuropathy, which is a type of diabetic neuropathy that causes decreased sensation in the extremities. It’s particularly dangerous because it may prevent you from noticing an injury or infection.
Diabetes also increases your risk of developing infections or ulcers of the foot. Poor blood flow and nerve damage increases the likelihood of having a foot or leg amputated. If you have diabetes, it’s critical that you take good care of your feet and inspect them often.