ComplicationsBy Mayo Clinic staff
Type 2 diabetes can be easy to ignore, especially in the early stages when your child is feeling fine. But type 2 diabetes must be taken seriously. The condition can affect nearly every major organ in your child's body, including the heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys. Keeping your child's blood sugar level close to normal most of the time can dramatically reduce the risk of these complications.
The long-term complications of type 2 diabetes develop gradually. But eventually, diabetes complications may be disabling or even life-threatening.
- Heart and blood vessel disease. Diabetes dramatically increases your child's risk of various cardiovascular problems, including heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
- Nerve damage (neuropathy). Excess sugar can injure the walls of the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) that nourish your child's nerves, especially in the legs. This can cause tingling, numbness, burning or pain.
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Children with type 2 are more likely to develop nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which can eventually lead to scarring of the liver and cirrhosis.
- Kidney damage (nephropathy). Diabetes can damage the numerous tiny blood vessel clusters in the kidneys that normally filter waste from your child's blood. The earlier diabetes develops, the greater the concern. Severe damage can lead to kidney failure or irreversible end-stage kidney disease, requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant.
- Eye damage. Diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the retina (diabetic retinopathy). Diabetes can also lead to cataracts and a greater risk of glaucoma.
- Foot damage. Nerve damage in the feet or poor blood flow to the feet increases the risk of various foot complications. Left untreated, cuts and blisters can become serious infections.
- Skin conditions. Diabetes may leave your child more susceptible to skin problems, including bacterial infections, fungal infections and itching.
- Brain problems. Diabetes is associated with an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease later in life. Exactly why these conditions are related isn't yet clear.
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