High blood sugar levels can seriously damage parts of your body, including your feet and your eyes. These are called diabetes complications. But you can take action to prevent or delay many of these side effects of diabetes.

There are two types of diabetes complications: serious ones that build up over time called chronic complications and ones that can happen at any time called acute complications.
  • Chronic Complications – These are long-term problems that can develop gradually, and can lead to serious damage if they go unchecked and untreated. They include Eye problems (retinopathy), Foot problems, Heart attack and stroke, Kidney problems (nephropathy), Nerve damage (neuropathy), Gum disease, Sexual problems.
  • Acute Complications – These can happen at any time and may lead to chronic, or long-term, complications. They include Hypos, Hypers, Hyperosmolar Hyperglycaemic State (HHS), Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

What causes these complications?

High sugar levels in your blood over a long period of time can seriously damage your blood vessels. If your blood vessels aren’t working properly, blood can’t travel to the parts of your body it needs to. This means your nerves won’t work properly either and means you lose feeling in parts of your body. Once you’ve damaged the blood vessels and nerves in one part of your body, you’re more likely to develop similar problems in other parts of your body. So if your feet are damaged, serious heart problems can follow.


We know that the higher your HbA1c level, the more you’re at risk of developing complications. HbA1c is is glycated haemoglobin. This is made when glucose, which we call sugar, sticks to your blood cells and builds up in your blood. It’s measured by a blood test that shows your average blood sugar levels over the last three months. A high HbA1c means you have too much sugar in your blood.

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