March 16, 2021

What Are The Effects of Diabetes When Not Managed Properly?

Your heart, brain, eyes, and feet are some of the body parts that are most impacted by poorly managed diabetes. Read on to learn more about protecting your whole health!

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What Are The Effects of Diabetes When Not Managed Properly

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If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes (or any other form of this disease), it’s important to work with your doctor on a treatment plan that’s right for you. Treating diabetes can involve insulin therapy, blood sugar monitoring, dietary changes, an exercise routine, and more. While these practices are all different from one another, they share a common goal: allowing people with diabetes to live relatively normal lives. 

While these diabetes treatment techniques and others are obviously crucial, have you ever wondered why you need to manage your diabetes? The answer is simple: When you don’t take steps to control this condition, it can wreak havoc on your body in all sorts of ways. In this article, we’ll look at the effects of unmanaged diabetes on the human body. 

Classic Signs And Symptoms of Diabetes 

For many people who have diabetes, their road to getting a diagnosis started when they experienced one or more of the symptoms commonly associated with this disease. Some of these symptoms include: 

  • Increased hunger/thirst 
  • More frequent urination (and the possible presence of ketones in urine) 
  • Blurry eyesight 
  • Fatigue and irritability 
  • Unusual loss of weight 

These are a few of the symptoms most commonly linked to type 1 and type 2 diabetes, but it’s not a comprehensive list by any means. It’s also important to note that not everyone who has diabetes will notice all of these symptoms…or any of them, especially if they have type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. With that in mind, it’s important to contact your doctor if you think you may have diabetes – if you don’t get the treatment you need, the results may not be pretty. 

Diabetes And The Human Body 

Diabetes can cause or contribute to all sorts of health problems, some of which are potentially life-threatening. If we tried to list every way this disease can affect your health, we’d be here all day – but these are just some of the body parts that can easily be impacted by diabetes. 


Unfortunately, one of the organs most susceptible to damage from diabetes is also one of the most important organs in the human body – the heart. Diabetes involves increased levels of blood glucose; in turn, that can result in higher inflammation levels. And the presence of more particles in your blood can eventually lead to heart damage, heart failure, or even a heart attack. Diabetes can also damage blood vessel linings, causing high blood pressure and additional heart-related problems. 

Want to take a closer look at how diabetes can cause problems for your circulatory system? If so, check out “3D Journey: How Diabetes Affects Your Heart.” Created by WebMD, this site features interactive 3D depictions of how hearts and blood vessels can be harmed by diabetes over time. 



Naturally, the effects diabetes has on your blood supply can cause problems elsewhere in your body. Take the brain, for example: if you have diabetes, your risk of having a stroke is four times higher than it is for people who do not have this disease. Meanwhile, untreated diabetic ketoacidosis could cause you to lose consciousness, enter a coma, and possibly die. 

Since the brain runs on carbohydrates, the unstable blood sugar levels of people with diabetes can also result in issues related to memory, mood, or concentration. These issues, collectively known as “brain fog,” can arise whether your blood sugar levels are too high or too low. 


Though temporary visual impairment is a common symptom of diabetes, your eyesight could degrade further if you don’t take steps to treat the disease. If this continues for some time, you could even go blind or develop glaucoma or cataracts. 

When you have excessively high levels of blood glucose, fluid levels in your eyes can change and eye tissues can swell; however, this effect on vision is temporary and should wane as your blood sugar level decreases. Diabetes that’s left untreated in the long term can lead to more serious problems, resulting from damage to the blood vessels connected to your eyes. 


If you’ve had diabetes for a long time without taking steps to control it, you could end up with nerve damage in various parts of your body – including your legs and feet. Once these nerves are damaged, you may have trouble sensing pain or temperature changes in affected body parts – a condition called “sensory diabetic neuropathy.” Nerve damage can make it more difficult for muscles in the foot to function properly, too. 

Since blood flow is also impacted by diabetes, sores and cuts on your feet could take longer than normal to heal due to what’s known as “peripheral vascular disease.” Infections that don’t heal because of this could potentially develop ulcers or gangrene. 

How To Control Diabetes 

Now that you’ve had a chance to learn about these symptoms, you may be wondering what you can do to lower your risk of falling victim to the effects of diabetes on the human body. The good news: There are a number of simple steps you can take to mitigate the impact of diabetes. 

As we mentioned previously, if you haven’t been diagnosed with diabetes but have reason to believe you might have the disease, your first step should be contacting your healthcare provider. They’ll be able to ask questions about your personal history and symptoms – and, if they think it’s necessary, they can run diabetes tests. 

If you do have diabetes, you and your healthcare provider will work together to build a treatment plan. Your plan will vary depending on the type of diabetes you have and other factors, but it may include: 

  • Insulin and/or other medications 
  • Dietary changes and carbohydrate counting 
  • Regular exercise 
  • Glucose testing 

By taking steps like these, you’ll be able to manage your diabetes and live your life to the fullest. If you want more advice on how to live well while dealing with diabetes, US MED can help! Go to the “Living With Diabetes” section of our website to learn more.


Shirley DeLeon Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist

Medical Review by Shirley DeLeon, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

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