Lesser-known Complications of Diabetes


If you’re one of the 35 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes, you already know the disease affects your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar. And you probably know that issues with your kidneys can result. 

But many people don’t know about other serious health conditions that uncontrolled diabetes can cause. At Prima Medicine in Fairfax and South Riding, Virginia, our experienced providers want you to be aware of the risks associated with diabetes, so you can take steps to save your health.   

Better-known complications of diabetes

Before we look at some of the lesser-known complications of the disease, here’s a review of some of the well-known complications diabetes can cause:

Heart disease

Diabetes doubles your risk of dying from heart disease due to the damage high blood sugar levels can cause to your blood vessels and nerves.

Foot problems

Because it impacts your blood circulation, diabetes can make it more difficult for wounds on your feet to heal, increasing your risk of developing gangrene and needing amputation.

Kidney disease

Diabetes causes kidney disease in more than 25% of diabetics, and it’s the leading cause of kidney failure in the United States.

Eye issues

If diabetes isn’t under control, it can trigger swelling in your eyes and impact your vision, which can lead to permanent vision loss.

The good news is that by getting your blood sugar levels under control, you can reduce your risk of developing these well-known complications. 

Complications many people don’t know about

The high blood sugar levels, inflammation, and other metabolic abnormalities the disease can cause can result in other lesser-known complications, such as the following:


All types of diabetes are associated with the loss of bone mass.


Diabetes increases your risk of having an excess of uric acid, which can lead to the development of gout, which is a type of arthritis.

Shoulder issues

More than a quarter of diabetics struggle with stiffness, pain, and mobility in their shoulders.

Dental troubles

Dry mouth, tooth loss, gum disease, and tooth decay are all potential complications of uncontrolled diabetes.

Respiratory infections

Because diabetes impacts your immune system, your risk of getting more severe respiratory infections — such as COVID-19, colds, and pneumonia — can increase.

Cognitive dysfunction

Diabetes can negatively affect your brain and increase your chances of developing cognitive problems and dementia.

Skin and hair issues

Because of poor circulation, diabetics are at risk of developing dry skin, itchy skin, skin infections, and hair loss.

Erectile dysfunction

More than two-thirds of men with diabetes also have erectile dysfunction, which may be related to the nerve and circulation problems diabetes can cause.

Digestive troubles

Diabetes can damage your digestive tract, which can cause diarrhea, indigestion, constipation, and other gastrointestinal problems.

Urinary tract issues

Because of nerve damage, the bladders of diabetics may not empty fully, which can increase the risk of developing urinary tract infections and urinary incontinence.

Problems with smell, taste, and hearing

The nerve damage diabetes can cause can lead to an impaired sense of smell, early hearing loss, and an altered sense of taste.

While this list of complications may seem overwhelming, the good news is that you have the power to take control of your health and reduce your risk of developing additional health concerns by taking steps to manage your diabetes.

Avoid complications by managing your diabetes

By making it your top priority to get your blood sugar levels under control, you can protect yourself against the complications of diabetes, both the commonly known issues and the lesser-known complications. 

In addition to testing your blood sugar, making lifestyle changes can help protect you against developing complications. You can make dietary changes, lose weight, and start exercising to improve your glucose levels, reduce inflammation, and minimize your risk factors for other diseases linked to diabetes. 

At Prima Medicine, we specialize in helping patients manage diabetes. We offer regular check-ins to help monitor your blood sugar levels, and we offer personalized recommendations for keeping diabetes under control.

Our team checks for early signs of any complications, making changes to your treatment plan as needed. Most patients experience dramatic improvements with the lifestyle changes we recommend, but we can prescribe effective medications for extra help. 

Do you want to take charge of your diabetes and prevent dangerous complications? Learn more by booking an appointment online or over the phone with Prima Medicine today.

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