Early signs of diabetes complications

Expert-reviewed by Ashwini S.Kanade, Registered Dietician and Certified Diabetes Educator with 17 years of experience
Fact-checked by Aditya Nar, B.Pharm, MSc. Public Health and Health Economics

Diabetes is a silent killer that has the potential to damage every part of your body. It also increases the risk of a host of serious health problems that can be life-threatening if not addressed at the right time.

Therefore, apart from keeping a check on the diet, exercise and sugar levels, being aware of these warning signs of some serious complications of diabetes can help you better manage the condition.

Tingling sensation in feet

Increased sugar level can cause nerve damages in the nerves of hands and feet, and further results to a condition called Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy. One of the earliest signs of this complication is the feeling of tingling sensation in fingers and toes. If you have diabetes and if you start experiencing tingling followed by numbness or even burning sensation, get a screening test done a neurologist to confirm the underlying cause.

Occurrence of sores and blisters

Spontaneous blistering eruptions are unique to patients with uncontrolled diabetes. The diabetic blisters most often appear on the fingers, toes and feet. There is no definite explanation for what causes these sores and blisters.

Poor wound healing

Diabetes, over a period, affects blood circulation, making it difficult for the body to heal wounds effectively. So even the smallest cut, blister or sore that takes longer to heal should alarm you to bring your diabetes under control.

Skin problems

Along with healing capacity, poor blood circulation due to diabetes also makes it difficult for the body to fight infections. So if you notice redness, rashes, itchy skin or inflammation on any part of the body, it could indicate skin infections as a result of diabetes.

Swelling in the feet

Swollen feet and leg cramps in diabetic patients point towards another serious complication called diabetic nephropathy. Kidneys remove waste and extra fluid from the body. High blood sugar levels over the years can damage the kidneys and prevent them from functioning correctly. This leads to build up fluid in the body causing swollen feet. The condition can eventually cause kidney failure.

Digestive problems

Signs like vomiting, nausea, bloating or diarrhoea in diabetes often indicate nerve damage in the digestive system or an infection as a result of poor circulation to the digestive system.

Blurry vision

Diabetic retinopathy is an increasing problem among people with diabetes as symptoms of poor or blurred vision are ignored.[1] The effect on blood circulation in diabetics can become so severe that it can also damage blood vessels in the eyes. If left untreated, this problem can compound and cause cataracts, glaucoma and even complete vision loss.

Chest pain

Heart disease remains the most common complication of diabetes. [1,2] Early sign of heart disease development may not always show a symptom of chest pain, but this warning cannot be ignored. If your chest pain is coupled with heaviness and shortness of breath, then it is concerning, and you should consult a medical professional.  It could be a warning sign of progressive heart disease.


[1]. Levin, M. E., & Pfeifer, M. A. (2009). The uncomplicated guide to diabetes complications. Alexandria, VA: American Diabetes Association.

[2]. Deshpande, A. D., Harris-Hayes, M., & Schootman, M. (2008). Epidemiology of Diabetes and Diabetes-Related Complications. Physical Therapy, 88(11), 1254–1264. http://doi.org/10.2522/ptj.20080020

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Disclaimer: The information we share is verified by experts and scientifically validated. However, it is not a replacement for a doctor’s advice. Please always check with your doctor before trying anything suggested on this website.


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