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Nerve damage, vision loss, kidney disease: Diabetes complications can start sooner than you think

September 4, 2012 in News

Loss of vision, nerve damage in the feet and hands, eye disease, kidney disease? Not me. These are complications that can happen to people who have had diabetes a long time, not newbies, right?! A new study suggests this common belief may be dead wrong and that even patients with newly diagnosed diabetes may experience these complications. The signs of the complications may or may not always be glaringly obvious, but the underlying problems are frequently present and merit increased awareness.

The research, published in Diabetes Care, highlights a very important point about the complications of diabetes: complications can occur very early in the condition. Even if you have only recently diagnosed with diabetes, it’s important to keep in mind that these complications can occur, and that it is important to work closely with your primary care provider to take steps to reduce your risk of developing them. Monitoring and controlling your blood sugar, following your doctor’s recommendations for healthy eating and exercise, and taking your medications as directed are all important to reducing your risk of developing diabetes complications, whether you have been managing your conditions for a long time, or have been newly diagnosed.

Diabetes Agent can help you learn more about how these complications occur, and give you some ideas for questions you can ask your doctor to start a conversation about your risk factors.

Not you? Be sure, ask your doc!

More about the study….

The study, published in Diabetes Care (March 2012), compared rates of diabeticpolyneuropathies, retinopathy, and nephropathyin 218 patients with newly diagnosed diabetes, 174 patients with impaired glycemia , and in 150 patients without any abnormal blood sugar values. The research team looked at rates of these microvascular complications in each group.

The researchers found increased rates of diabetic polyneuropathies, retinopathy, and nephropathy in patients who had only recently discovered they had diabetes – the same conditions that, if not carefully managed under a doctor’s care, can lead to permanent nerve damage, blindness, and amputation.

The researchers found diabetic polyneuropathies in 7.8% of the patients with newly diagnosed diabetes, compared with 2% of healthy participants and 1.7% of those with impaired glycemia.

Rates of diabetic retinopathy were also found to be significantly increased in newly diagnosed diabetics, compared to small increases in the other two groups.

Diabetic retinopathies were found in 9.4% of those with newly diagnosed diabetes, compared with 3.4% of the healthy participants, and 4.7% with impaired glycemia.

Related Links: << link to DA content if possible>>

The Cleveland Clinic has information on preventing diabetes complications, which you can access at this link.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) also provides a web page that discusses recommendations for preventing complications.


1. Dyck PJ, Clark VM, Overland CJ, et al. Impaired Glycemia and Diabetic Polyneuropathy: The OC IG Survey. Diabetes Care. Mar 2012;35(3):584-591.

2. McGill J. Diabetic polyneuropathies, retinopathy and nephropathy increased in newly diagnosed diabetes. Endocrine Today. March 7, 2012. http://endocrinetoday.com/view.aspx?rid=95394#perspective. Accessed 3/9/12.

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