Diabetes is a chronic, serious condition that can significantly impact individuals if it’s not managed correctly. In fact, without proper treatment, patients can experience life-changing complications.

The key to managing this fairly common condition is to understand what factors affect diabetes health. With a thorough knowledge of diabetes’ impact on your body, you can identify warning signs and prevent lasting effects.

What Causes Diabetes?

First, let’s talk about what diabetes is and what causes it. Diabetes is the body’s inability to manage blood sugar, which may occur because it can’t create insulin or because it’s developed insulin resistance.

There are several types of diabetes, some of which are chronic, and some of which are temporary. For example, gestational diabetes is a temporary condition pregnant people may develop due to shifts in hormones. Once the pregnancy ends, most people find their glucose levels return to normal.

Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, however, are ongoing. Proper management can reduce the intensity and frequency of diabetes symptoms, but the condition isn’t “cured.”

Type 1

The major difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes is insulin. Individuals with Type 1 don’t produce insulin, which is necessary to deliver glucose to cells. The lack of insulin stems from the destruction of islet cells, which are located in the pancreas and responsible for producing this vital hormone.

Islet cells are destroyed by the body’s immune system, which mistakes them for foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria. Exactly why this happens is still unknown, although the medical community believes both genetics and environmental factors play a part.

Type 2

Individuals with Type 2 diabetes still produce insulin, but they’ve developed insulin resistance, which is when cells no longer respond to the hormone. In some cases, individuals’ pancreases may not produce enough insulin for proper blood sugar management.

As with Type 1, the root cause of Type 2 diabetes is unknown. However, healthcare professionals have identified major risk factors that can lead to its development:

  • Inactivity
  • Being Overweight
  • Genetics

What Parts of the Body Does Diabetes Affect?

The symptoms of diabetes are wide-ranging and vary in severity. In fact, some individuals don’t experience any symptoms at all. However, even if you don’t feel the effects, unbalanced blood sugar can still wreak havoc on your body.

Some diabetes symptoms are a response to a sudden spike or drop in blood glucose levels and can be remedied by taking medication or eating. Others, however, can lead to long-term conditions that negatively impact daily life. To understand the full scope, let’s take a look at how diabetes affects different parts of the body.

Nervous System

Some of the most serious symptoms are the result of diabetes’ impact on the nervous system. Your central nervous system allows the different parts of your body to communicate with your brain. Nerves are responsible for a variety of signals.

Unmanaged diabetes can damage your nerves, a condition called diabetic neuropathy. Extensive nerve damage can leave you without feeling in your extremities.

Circulatory System

Your circulatory system includes your heart, arteries, and veins. It delivers oxygen-rich blood to your brain and carries glucose to your cells for energy. When a virus or bacteria attacks your body, blood is a conduit for the white blood cells that attack the invaders.

Diabetes can cause buildup along the interior of your blood vessels, making them narrower. This raises your blood pressure, which can cause all sorts of problems:

  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Intermittent claudication
  • Poor circulation
  • Increased risk of heart disease

Legs and Feet

The combined issues of poor circulation and diabetic neuropathy can take their toll on your feet and legs. The poor circulation means that there isn’t enough blood flow to fight infections when you’re injured in these places and keep your cells healthy. In the worst-case scenario, you may end up losing a limb to gangrene.

Diabetic neuropathy can make it difficult to prevent the above situation because you can’t feel the injury. In most cases, if a minor injury is treated quickly, there’s no issue with infection. Neuropathy, however, prevents you from feeling the pain or irritation that normally accompany injuries, which means you may not notice them until it’s too late.

Reproductive System

Diabetic people who become pregnant have to monitor their blood glucose closely, as they’re at a higher risk of complications such as eclampsia and preeclampsia. Both of these conditions involve high blood pressure, which can be dangerous for both parent and child. While there are treatments available for eclampsia and preeclampsia, physicians recommend delivering the baby to prevent severe issues such as these:

  • Fluid in Lungs
  • Impaired Liver and Kisney Function
  • Seizures
  • Fetal Heart Rate Changes

Integumentary System

The integumentary system, which includes your skin, nails, and hair, is your body’s first defense against infection. Its care is also crucial to your comfort.

There are many diabetic symptoms that can affect the integumentary system:

  • Infected Nails
  • Diabetic Dermopathy
  • Sties
  • Digital Sclerosis
  • Folliculitis
  • Eruptive Xanthomatosis
  • Boils
  • Ulcers
  • Calluses
  • Yeast, Fungal and Bacterial infections
  • Cracked Skin

 Kidneys and Urinary System

Our kidneys are a vital part of keeping our bodies healthy as they filter blood to remove waste. This waste, along with extra fluid, then exits the body through the urinary tract.

Unfortunately, these systems can be damaged by unregulated blood sugar. If not treated, the kidneys may even fail, prompting the need for transplants or dialysis.


It’s been said that our eyes are one of our most delicate organs. Their sensitivity to light and other factors makes them extremely vulnerable, which is problematic since humans rely so heavily on sight.

Unfortunately, we can add diabetes to the list of dangers. It can cause several conditions that affect the sight, such as:

  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts
  • Damaged Blood Vessels

In extreme cases, patients may even go blind.

Mental Health

While diabetes isn’t known to cause mental health issues directly, the relentless symptoms of a chronic illness can lead to anxiety and stress. Complications may contribute to these issues and can even lead to depression.

The good news is that learning about your condition and working with a physician to manage your diabetes can alleviate stress. Exercise and a healthy diet — both key to effectively managing diabetes — can also provide some relief.

Where Can You Order Diabetic Supplies?

The key to minimizing symptoms and preventing serious complications is managing your blood sugar. To do that, you need a glucose monitor and other diabetic supplies.

Here at MedEnvios Healthcare, we’re dedicated to making diabetic supplies accessible to our customers, no matter where they live in the U.S. Our website makes it easy to order the items you need while our home delivery service ensures you get supplies in a timely manner. To shop our selection, visit us online.

See also: How to Safely Dispose of Insulin Needles

Featured Image: Shutterstock / Raihana Asral


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