Complications of Diabetes Mellitus : Type 1, Type 2 & Gestational Diabetes

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Complications of Diabetes Mellitus : Type 1, Type 2 & Gestational Diabetes

Diabetes Mellitus is Increased blood sugar levels which can affect our body, including your eyes and feet, in serious ways. Having our body affected due to diabetes is called diabetic complications. But, one can take several precautions to delay or prevent the side effects of diabetes. 

Type 2 diabetes is a condition that gets in the way of how your body uses and regulates glucose (sugar) as fuel. It is a chronic health condition that results in high sugar levels circulating in the blood. Eventually, elevated blood sugar levels might lead to disorders of the immune system, nervous system, and circulatory systems. 

Type 2 diabetes affects various organs, including kidneys, blood vessels, heart, eyes, etc. In addition, other factors that increase diabetes risks are additional risk factors for serious chronic diseases. Controlling your blood glucose levels and managing diabetes can lower the risk of complications along with other coexisting conditions.  

There are three main types of diabetes and complications come with them all – Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, and Gestational Diabetes. 

  1. Type 1 Diabetes Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune reaction that bars the human body from making insulin. Around 5-10% of diabetics have type 1 diabetes. It is majorly diagnosed in young adults, kids, and teens. Anyone who has type 1 diabetes, needs to intake insulin every day.  

  1. Type 2 Diabetes - In type 2 diabetes, the human body does not use insulin well and has problems keeping normal levels of blood sugar levels. About 90-95% of diabetic people have type 2 diabetes. It develops over years and is mostly found in adults. Type 2 diabetes can be delayed or prevented by a healthy lifestyle like eating healthy, being active, losing weight, etc. 

  1. Gestational Diabetes - Gestational diabetes develops in pregnant women who have not experienced it ever. If you suffer from gestational diabetes, your baby might be at great risk for health issues. It generally goes away once the baby is born but you face a lifelong risk of type 2 diabetes in later life.  

Chronic complications of diabetes mellitus 

Chronic complications of diabetes mellitus 

  1. Microangiopathy - When small blood vessels get damaged, it leads to microangiopathy. 

  1. Microvascular Disease - Microvascular diseases cause heart complications. 

  1. Immune Compromise - In people with diabetes, the immune response is often impaired. Studies have shown that hypoglycemia and hypoglycemia reduce the immune cell’s functionality and boost inflammation.  

Acute complications of diabetes mellitus 

Acute complications of diabetes mellitus 

  1. Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a threatening medical emergency that occurs due to spiked blood sugar levels and elevated levels of ketones. 

  1. Hyperglycemia hyperosmolar state (HHS): It is a lethal emergency found in people with type 2 diabetes. It occurs with high blood sugar levels and significant dehydration. 

  1. Hypoglycemia - It is a condition when blood sugars levels are too low 

  1. Diabetic Coma – A diabetic coma is a condition when a diabetic person gets unconscious due to one of the acute complications of diabetes mellitus. 

  1. Hyperglycemia - It is a condition when blood sugars levels are too high 

[ History of Diabetes Mellitus: Early Science, Early Treatment, Insulin ]

Diabetic ketoacidosis

Diabetic ketoacidosis

Diabetic Ketoacidosis is one of the acute complications of diabetes mellitus. It is a dangerous complication that requires immediate medical attendance and is always a medical emergency. Low insulin boosts the liver to change fatty acids into ketone for energy (ketosis). Ketone bodies are the substrates in this metabolic sequence. This is a normal condition, but it can be a big problem if sustained. Elevated ketone body levels increase blood pH, which leads to DKA. Medically, the DKA patient breaths profoundly and is always dehydrated. There is severe abdominal pain.  

Ketoacidosis can also get severe and cause shock, hypotension, and even death. Urine analysis reveals a significant level of ketone bodies. Prompt and proper treatment generally leads to complete recovery. But, delayed or improper treatment and complications can lead to death. Ketoacidosis is very common in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

[Know more about Diabetic ketoacidosis]

Hyperglycemia Hyperosmolar State 

Hyperglycemia Hyperosmolar State 

Nonketotic hyperosmolar come (HNS) is another one of the acute complications of diabetes mellitus. It shares various symptoms with Diabetic Ketoacidosis. But, both kinds feature different treatments and origins. In a person with a high blood glucose level, the water gets drawn out into the kidneys and blood and eventually into the urine.  

This process leads to loss of water and increased blood osmolarity. If the fluid is not replaced, the osmotic effect of high blood glucose levels and water loss eventually leads to dehydration. The body’s cells become dehydrated as water is excreted from the cells. Electrolyte imbalance is always dangerous.  



Hypoglycemia is another acute complication of diabetes mellitus. Glucose is the primary source of energy for your body. Hypoglycemia is a condition where your blood sugar level gets lower than usual. The patient might become sweaty, agitated, weak, etc. Hypoglycemia can occur due to diet, exercise, medications, and other reasons.  

Diabetic Coma

A diabetic coma is a critical complication that can be lethal and cause unconsciousness. Diabetic coma is a condition that can result from dangerously low and high blood glucose levels. If a person with diabetes falls into a diabetic coma, they stay alive but cannot respond or wake up purposefully to any stimulation like sights or sounds. If left without treatment, a diabetic coma would be severe and can even be fatal. Although the idea of diabetic coma is dangerous, one can take measures to control it. You should start your diabetic treatment plans and manage them well to avoid a diabetic coma. 

What causes Diabetes-related complications? 

What causes Diabetes-related complications? 

Raised blood sugar levels can seriously damage your blood vessels over the years. Blood does not easily travel to different body parts with damaged blood vessels. This leads to improper functioning of your nerves, and you lose sensations in parts of your body. With defective nerves and blood vessels, you are likely to develop ailments in your body. 

Chronic Complications of Diabetes Mellitus 

Chronic Complications of Diabetes Mellitus 

Chronic complications of Diabetes mellitus are long-term complications that gradually develop over time. It can lead to severe issues if left untreated and unattended. Listed below are some common chronic complications of Diabetes mellitus. Let us have a look:- 

  1. Retinopathy or eye problems - Several people who suffer from Diabetes mellitus develop an eye condition called diabetic retinopathy. It affects the eyesight of the sufferer. If retinopathy is diagnosed from an eye screening test, it can be managed and treated with no vision loss. 

  1. Foot Problems - Foot problems are serious issues and can lead to amputation if left unattended and untreated. Nerve damage can bar the sensations in your feet, and elevated blood glucose levels can affect blood circulation. Furthermore, barred blood circulation can cause delayed healing of cuts and sores. Therefore, it is essential to check how your feet feel or look. 

  1. Stroke and Heart Attack - If you have Diabetes, elevated blood sugar levels for an extended period can damage blood vessels. Damaged blood vessels can often lead to strokes and heart attacks. 

  1. Kidney Problems or Nephropathy - Diabetes for a long time can cause damage to the kidneys. Damaged kidneys make it hard for your system to flush out excess waste and fluids from the body. Kidney damage is caused by raised blood glucose levels and elevated blood pressure. This condition is called kidney disease or diabetic nephropathy. 

  1. Neuropathy or Nerve damage - High blood glucose levels and related complications in people with Diabetes can develop severe nerve damage. Damaged nerves make it challenging for the nerves to convey messages between your body and brain. Therefore, it affects the sensations of the sufferer. In conclusion, eyesight, hearing capacity, touch, and movement are affected by nerve damage.  

  1. Mouth problems or gum disease - Excess sugar in the bloodstream can lead to excessive sugar in saliva. Excess sugar produces bacteria which in turn attacks your gums and tooth enamel. Therefore, resultantly, you can have infected gums. 

  1. Cancer - If you have Diabetes, you stand at risk of various cancers. Some cancer treatments can affect Diabetes and make it tough to control blood glucose levels.  

  1. Sexual issues in females - Damaged nerves and blood vessels restrict the quantity of blood flowing to the sexual organs. Restricted blood flow can have lost sensations in your sexual organs. If you are a diabetic patient who suffers from high blood glucose problems, you might contract a urinary tract infection. 

  1. Sexual issues in males - Damaged blood vessels restrict the quantity of blood flow to sexual organs, which makes it challenging to have arousal. Therefore, there might be erectile dysfunction or impotence. 

Other Complications 

Other Complications 

  1. Blood Vessel and Heart Diseases - Diabetes is closely linked with increased risks of stroke, atherosclerosis (narrowed blood vessels), high blood pressure, and heart diseases. 

  1. Other nerve damage - Damaged heart nerves can lead to erratic heart rhythms. Nerve impairment in the digestive system causes issues like vomiting, constipation, nausea, diarrhea, etc.  

  1. Eye damage - Diabetes puts you at a high risk of severe eye problems like glaucoma, cataracts, damaged retina blood vessels, and even blindness. 

  1. Skin Problems - Diabetes leaves your skin more susceptible to infections and problems. Fungal and bacterial infections are the most common. 

  1. Slow Recovery - Blisters and cuts might become severe infections and even heal poorly if left untreated. If severely damaged, the condition might even lead to leg or foot amputation. 

  1. Hearing Damage - Diabetic people have more hearing issues than non-diabetic people. 

  1. Sleep apnea - Obstructed sleep apnea is prevalent in people with type 2 diabetes. Obesity is a major contributing factor to both conditions. It is yet to be proved that treating sleep apnea would lead to controlled blood glucose control. 

  1. Dementia - Type 2 diabetes increases the risk of various diseases like Alzheimer’s. A poorly controlled blood glucose level is associated with a rapid decline in thinking skills and memory. 

  1. Depression - Depression affects diabetes management. Its symptoms are widely seen in type 2 and type 1 diabetes people. 

Complications of Gestational Diabetes 

Complications of Gestational Diabetes 

Most females who have gestational diabetes deliver fit and healthy newborns. However, if you leave your diabetes uncontrolled or untreated, it can be problematic for the new born and the mother. There might be some complications in your baby as a consequence of gestational diabetes, including the following: 

  1. Excessive growth - Excess blood glucose can cross the placenta, which works to trigger the baby’s placenta to produce extra insulin. Excessive insulin production can cause the baby to grow too big. This condition is called macrosomia. A C-section birth generally delivers too big babies. 

  1. Low blood sugar - Often, the gestational diabetic mothers of the babies develop hypoglycemia or low blood sugar levels after birth. This happens because their insulin production is too high. Intravenous glucose solution and prompt feedings can have the baby’s blood glucose levels return to normal. 

  1. Death - An untreated and unattended gestational diabetes can lead to the death of a baby before or after birth. 

  1. Type 2 diabetes in later life - The babies of females who have gestational diabetes feature a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes and obesity later. 

[ How to Beat Gestational Diabetes: 13 Effective Steps to Trap Gestational Diabetes ]

Complications in Mothers with Gestational Diabetes 

Complications in Mothers with Gestational Diabetes 

There can occur complications in mothers with gestational diabetes. Let us have a look at them below: 

  1. Preeclampsia is a medical condition characterized by elevated blood pressure, leg and foot swelling, and spiked protein in the urine. Preeclampsia can cause fatal complications in both baby and mother. 

  1. Subsequent gestational diabetes - Once you contract gestational diabetes in a pregnancy, you are likely to have it again in the following pregnancies. You might also develop a typical type 2 diabetes with age. 

How can you delay or prevent Complications? 

How can you delay or prevent Complications? 

Diabetic complications are not inevitable. However, you can reduce or delay the risk of diabetic complications if you keep your blood fats, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels in control. You can take care of and manage your diabetes by regular health checks and keeping a record of it. To avoid complications, you must take the necessary actions to control your body well. Listed below are ways to prevent or delay diabetes complications. Let us have a look: 

  1. Manage your diabetes - Your healthcare team would set a target range of HbA1c, and staying within the field would reduce your diabetes complications. If you notice your blood glucose levels rising, speak to your doctor. Your doctor might need to alter your medication to get your HbA1c on track to avoid severe complications of high blood glucose levels. 

  1. Quit Smoking - Smoking is not a healthy habit for people with diabetes. It makes it difficult for blood to flow around the body and reach places like your feet and heart. If you indulge in smoking, it is best advised to quit it immediately. Quitting smoking would drastically reduce your chances of developing complications and risks.  

  1. Eating Healthy - Opting for healthy eating habits and nutritious choices can help you bring down HbA1c, lose weight, manage your blood pressure and reduce cholesterol levels. You can consult a dietician for more help. 

  1. Keeping Active - If you indulge in regular physical activities and stay active, you reduce the chances of developing complications. Make sure to indulge in any physical activity you like. 

  1. Get checked regularly - With a condition like diabetes that might keep fluctuating, you need to check yourself regularly. You must schedule appointments with your doctor to get yourself checked and treat any issues. 

[ 5 Ways to Avoid Diabetes Complications ]

In case you face Chronic Complications of Diabetes Mellitus

In case you face Chronic Complications of Diabetes Mellitus

If you develop even one chronic complication, you get exposed to more risk of developing other complications. So, in case your damaged blood vessels affect your feet, other body parts like your heart and kidneys might also get affected. Therefore, to stay healthy and away from complications, you must manage your problems well and get regular health checks. 


If you are a patient with type 2 diabetes, you are closely associated with chronic complications of diabetes mellitus and acute complications of diabetes mellitus. You can follow steps to lower and delay the risk of complications by following an effective diabetes treatment plan. Managing your blood glucose level and other health aspects can help you avoid risks and complications. Establishing a healthy lifestyle and adopting healthy habits can make a significant difference.