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You need to keep an eye on your health and have regular check-ups if you have type 2 diabetes because it can lead to:

  • heart disease and stroke
  • loss of feeling and pain (nerve damage)
  • foot problems, like sores and infections, which could lead to amputation if not treated
  • vision loss and blindness
  • miscarriage and stillbirth
  • problems with your kidneys
  • sexual problems, like problems getting or keeping an erection

Controlling your blood sugar level and having regular diabetes check-ups is the best way to lower your risk of complications.

Getting your heart checked

You should have your cholesterol (blood fats) and blood pressure checked at least once a year. Diabetes increases your risk of heart disease and stroke, so it's important that high blood pressure and other problems that increase your risk of heart problems are spotted and treated early.

If you're already being treated to lower your cholesterol or blood pressure, keep taking your medicine.

Diabetes also worsens the effects of smoking on your heart. Get help to quit smoking.

Loss of feeling

You should let your GP or diabetes nurse know if you notice any changes in your body.

Diabetes can damage your nerves (neuropathy). This usually affects your feet, but it can affect other parts of your body, causing:

  • numbness
  • pain or tingling
  • problems with sex
  • constipation or diarrhoea

Early treatment can prevent nerve damage getting worse.

Looking after your feet

You should check your feet every day. Diabetes can reduce the blood supply to your feet and cause a loss of feeling.

This means foot injuries do not heal well and you may not notice straight away if your foot is sore or injured. These problems can lead to ulcers and infections. If they're not treated early, you could need an amputation.

Simple things are important, like:

  • keeping feet clean and dry to avoid infection
  • trying not to go barefoot outside to avoid nicks and cuts
  • wearing shoes that fit well

Speak to your GP or diabetes nurse if you notice any changes in your feet, including:

  • cuts, cracks or blisters
  • pain or tingling
  • numb toes and feet

Diabetes UK has advice on diabetes and foot problems.

Your feet should also be checked every year by your GP, diabetes nurse or podiatrist.

Sores or infections that are not treated early can lead to gangrene.

Checking your eyes

Your eyes should be checked every 1 or 2 years for damaged blood vessels, which can cause sight problems (diabetic retinopathy) and blindness.

Eye checks can detect damage before it affects your sight. Treating damaged blood vessels early can prevent sight problems.

Speak to your GP as soon as possible if you notice changes to your sight, including:

  • blurred vision, especially at night
  • shapes floating in your vision (floaters)

Pregnancy and diabetes

Speak to your GP or diabetes care team if you're thinking of having a baby.

It's important to try to plan pregnancy so that it's as safe as possible for you and your baby. This usually means using contraception until you have good blood sugar levels.

Certain medicines may not be safe in pregnancy and you may need to stop taking them if you're trying to get pregnant.

If you find out that you're pregnant, speak to your GP as soon as possible so that you can be referred urgently to the diabetes and pregnancy service.

You will need additional check-ups during the pregnancy.

Page last reviewed: 22 December 2023
Next review due: 22 December 2026