Diabetes Facts: Know the Risks

Warning signs and statistics


People with diabetes are at risk for long-term problems affecting the eyes, kidneys, heart, brain, feet and nerves. The best way to prevent or delay these problems is to control your blood sugar and take good care of yourself. Want to learn more about your risk? Take the diabetes risk assessment.

Advertising Policy

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy


Diabetes increases the risk for stroke.

Warning signs include:
•    Sudden numbness/weakness in the face, arm or leg, usually on one side of the body
•    Sudden nausea/vomiting
•    Difficulty speaking or understanding words or simple sentences
•    Sudden intense headache/blurred or decreased vision in one or both eyes
•    Loss of balance or loss of coordination


People with diabetes should see an eye doctor every year for a dilated eye exam. If you have any changes in your vision, call your healthcare provider.

Advertising Policy

Eye problems that can occur with diabetes include:

•    Cataracts — a clouding of the lens of the eyes
•    Glaucoma — increased pressure in the eye
•    Retinopathy — eye changes with the retina in the back of the eye

Symptoms of eye problems include blurred vision, spots or lines in your vision, eye discomfort and loss of vision.


All people with diabetes have an increased chance for heart disease and strokes. Heart disease is the major cause of death in people with diabetes. It’s important to control other risks such as high blood pressure and high fats (cholesterol), as well as blood sugar. Call your doctor or go to an ER if any of these signs or symptoms occurs.

Symptoms of a heart attack include:
•    Shortness of breath
•    Feeling faint or dizzy
•    Sweating and nausea
•    Chest pain or pressure
•    Pain in the shoulders, jaw and left arm

Advertising Policy


Have your urine checked for protein at least once a year. Protein in the urine is a sign of kidney disease. High blood pressure might also lead to kidney disease, so be sure to check your blood pressure when you see your healthcare provider. Prompt treatment may slow the changes with kidney disease.

Symptoms of a kidney problem include:
•    Swelling of the hands, feet, and face
•    Weight gain from edema
•    Itching and/or drowsiness (can occur with end stage kidney disease)


High blood sugars can lead to poor blood flow and nerve damage, which can lead to slow healing of sores. You can experience severe pain, but you can also lose feeling in your feet. In serious cases this may lead to amputation of your toes, foot or leg.


High blood sugars can affect all of the nerve endings in your body. Nerve damage can cause many problems. Symptoms of nerve damage include:
•    Burning pain
•    Numbness
•    Tingling or loss of feeling in the feet or lower legs
•    Problems with sexual function in both men and women

Advertising Policy
Advertising Policy