Complications are a hard part of type 1 diabetes, but it's important to be aware of the signs and keep up to date with your check ups to catch anything as early as possible

Complications are most commonly linked to high blood glucose levels over a long period of time, so the best protection against developing anything is to keep your levels in range.

Common complications

The most common complications can be classified broadly as:

  • Damage to the large blood vessels of the heart, brain and legs (called macrovascular complications)
  • Damage to the small blood vessels (microvascular complications) causing problems in the eyes, kidneys, feet and nerves

The parts of the body that can be most affected by diabetes complications are heart and blood vessels, kidneys, eyes, nerves, gums and feet.

Once you have had type 1 for a couple of years you’re at risk of developing some subtle changes to the organs containing non-insulin requiring cells. Many type 1 related complications don’t show up until you’ve had the condition for many years, sometimes decades.

Check ups

Complications usually develop silently and gradually over time, which means that regular check ups are a must to catch the signs early.

If these changes to your organs are found early, there are strategies to stop or delay the progression of type 1-related complications. For this reason, it is recommended that you are screened for complications two to five years after being diagnosed, then annually thereafter.