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Type 1 complications

Type 1 diabetes can lead to a variety of complications that affect your body from head to toe, including stroke, blindness, amputation and more. People with diabetes are also at risk for mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression that can result from the stress of managing their diabetes. It is often referred to diabetes distress.

But don’t give up, there are things you can do. The following sections cover complications often associated with type 1 diabetes. For a more detailed explanation of symptoms and possible treatments, check out the resource links at the bottom of this page.

Celiac disease

Although not a complication, celiac disease is an auto-immune digestive disorder that appears to be more common in people with type 1 diabetes than in the general population. It is a condition in which the lining of the gut is damaged by gluten – a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale.

Kidney disease (nephropathy)

Kidney disease—known as nephropathy—is common in people with diabetes. If the kidneys are damaged due to high blood glucose (sugar) levels and high blood pressure, they can no longer filter blood properly and may fail completely. Kidney failure is a serious complication associated with diabetes.

Eye damage (diabetic retinopathy)

Diabetic retinopathy affects about one million people living with diabetes and is the most common form of vision loss affecting people living with diabetes in Canada. Diabetic retinopathy can lead to vision changes or blindness. With blood sugar control, regular eye exams and early treatment, the risk or worsening of eye damage can be reduced.

Heart disease & stroke

Diabetes increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. People with diabetes may develop heart disease 15 years earlier than those without diabetes. The most common form of heart disease in diabetes is coronary artery disease.

High blood pressure

People with diabetes are much more likely to develop heart disease and/or experience a stroke at an earlier age than people without diabetes. High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) along with diabetes puts added stress on your body. This can cause damage to your heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes.

Mental health issues

Many people living with diabetes experience distress, decreased mood and disabling levels of anxiety. Mental health disorders can affect your ability to cope with and care for your diabetes. It is just as important to look after your mental health as it is your physical health.

Nerve damage (diabetic peripheral neuropathy)

Nerve damage or diabetic peripheral neuropathy is one of the long-term complications of diabetes. If left untreated, the damage caused by neuropathy can potentially lead to infection and limb amputation.

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