Diabetes and the Effects on the Body

Diabetes and the Effects on the Body

Diabetes and the Effects on the Body

Diabetes is all about blood sugar and insulin. When blood sugar levels get out of control, it opens the door to serious diseases and organ damage throughout your body.  

Here’s how.

After a meal, your body breaks down food and drink into proteins, fats and a form of sugar called glucose. Glucose stays in your blood stream until it is absorbed by cells throughout the body. Glucose gives cells the energy they need to fuel your organs and muscles.  

Insulin (a hormone made by the pancreas) helps cells absorb glucose. Without it, glucose stays in the bloodstream and cells starve.

When a person has diabetes, the pancreas makes too little insulin, none at all, or the insulin it does make can’t be used effectively. As a result, blood glucose levels rise out of control and cause serious health issues.

Diabetes takes a toll on your: 

  • Eyes (cataracts, vision blurriness, seeing spots, and even blindness)
  • Kidneys (trouble urinating too much or not enough, injury to kidneys,  and shut down of kidneys, leading to dialysis)
  • Blood flow (poor circulation and high blood pressure)
  • Cholesterol (high levels -- either alone or along with blood flow issues can cause heart attacks, strokes)
  • Nerves (painful stinging or loss of feeling)
  • Skin (sores, wounds that don’t heal and infections that can lead to possible amputation)

Although diabetes can’t be cured, medication, eating healthy, staying active and working closely with your doctor can lower its affect so you can live well.

Here are some additional resources to help you better understand the disease.



Sources: The Path to Understanding Diabetes Starts Here, leaving site icon American Diabetes Association, 2020; Diabetes, leaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020. 

Originally published 3/11/2016; Revised 2019, 2021