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Avoiding health problems linked to type 1 diabetes

High blood glucose levels over a long time increases the risk of other health problems.

These include:

  • sight problems and blindness
  • kidney problems
  • foot and circulation problems
  • pain and loss of feeling (nerve damage)
  • heart disease and stroke

These problems can happen gradually.

The best way to lower your risk is to:

Getting your heart health checked

Have your cholesterol and blood pressure checked at least once a year.

If you smoke, you should stop. Smoking has a negative effect on your heart. But for people with diabetes, these effects are even worse. The best thing you can do for your health is not to smoke.

Get help to quit smoking

Loss of feeling

Diabetes can damage your nerves (neuropathy), causing:

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

Contact your diabetes team if you notice any changes like these. Early treatment can prevent nerve damage getting worse.

Looking after your feet

Poorly treated 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 if your foot is sore or injured. This can lead to ulcers and infections.

Check your feet every day and:

  • keep your feet clean and dry to avoid infection
  • try not to go barefoot to avoid cuts and grazes
  • wear shoes that fit well

Contact your diabetes team if you notice any changes, such as:

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

If you have problems with your feet, you may be referred to a podiatrist (foot specialist).

Get your feet checked every year by a professional, such as:

  • your GP
  • a practice nurse
  • a diabetes team member
  • a podiatrist

Foot care for people with diabetes

Checking your eyes

Diabetes can damage the blood vessels in your eyes. This can cause sight problems (diabetic retinopathy) and blindness.

Having your eyes checked as part of diabetes care is called diabetic retina screening.

Diabetic RetinaScreen

Diabetic RetinaScreen offers free eye screening to people with diabetes age 12 and older.

If you have diabetes and would like to check if you are on our register, freephone: 1800 45 45 55

Attend your screening appointment every time you're invited. This is different from an eye test that checks your eyesight.

If diabetic retinopathy is found early, treatment can reduce or prevent damage to your sight.

Non-urgent advice: Contact your GP or diabetes team immediately if

you notice changes to your eye sight, including:

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

Page last reviewed: 17 October 2023
Next review due: 17 October 2026

This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 9.