Acute complications

  • Hypos– when your blood sugars are too low
  • Hypers– when your blood sugars are too high
  • Hyperosmolar Hyperglycaemic State (HHS)– a life-threatening emergency that only happens in people with Type 2 diabetes. It’s brought on by severe dehydration and very high blood sugars.
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) – a life-threatening emergency where the lack of insulin and high blood sugars leads to a build-up of ketones.
What causes diabetes 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. Even a slightly high HbA1c increases your risk. But it’s not just about blood sugars. High blood pressure, smoking and a lot of fat in your blood (cholesterol) can all damage your blood vessels and put you even more at risk.

How do I prevent or delay complications?

You can prevent or delay the complications of diabetes. But you need to take action and it’s all about managing your diabetes well.

Quitting smoking and lowering your HbA1c levels, blood fats and blood pressure will prevent or slow down these complications. Giving up smoking is the best thing you can do if you have diabetes because smoking makes it even harder for blood to flow around your body.

Keeping a close eye on these levels and understanding your numbers will help you take control of your health. We know it’s not always as simple as that, but we’re here to help.

A good place to start is knowing what essential diabetes health checks you should be getting. Did you know there are 15? We call these the 15 Healthcare Essentials. You’re entitled to all of these at least once a year. Knowing what these checks are and what to do between appointments will help reduce your risk of developing complications.