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7 Secondary diabetic risks to be aware of.

We share some lesser known complications of diabetes and what to be aware of.

7 Secondary diabetic risks to be aware of.

All complications experienced with diabetes are caused in the same way the body uses and stores fuel for energy.

This fuel is derived from food in the form of glucose. The pancreas then produces insulin to stimulate the removal of glucose from the blood, which is then absorbed into the muscles and liver, delivering the glucose to the cells for energy. With little to no insulin, the body’s cells are unable to absorb the glucose to use and store as energy.

Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)

When the body doesn’t produce enough insulin to make use of glucose for energy, it starts to use fat. Ketones are produced as a result of this process and when they build up they become extremely acidic. DKA can result when high levels of ketones become toxic to the body. It is considered the most dangerous diabetic health complication and the symptoms have been described on Diabetes Self-Management as “lethargy, unquenchable thirst and unrelenting vomiting.”

Kidney disease

In South Africa, diabetes is the second most common cause of kidney disease after hypertension. Diabetic kidney disease, also known as nephropathy, occurs when high levels of sugar in the blood causes the kidneys to work harder by filtering out too much blood. Over time the kidney filters start to leak, resulting in the loss of useful urine proteins. Symptoms can include weakness, concentration issues, insomnia, nausea, poor appetite and swelling of the feet, hands and face, due to fluid build-up.


Simply put, a stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted. A diabetic stroke is caused by damage to the arteries from the high level of glucose in the blood or because of blocked blood vessels from fatty deposits in the arteries. People with diabetes are considered to be two to three times more likely to suffer a stroke than non-diabetics.

Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome (HHNS)

This is quite a mouthful for something that simply refers to a build-up of sugar in the blood which the body tries to dispose of through urination. It leads to many toilet breaks as well as extreme thirst. HHNS is a very serious condition and can lead to severe dehydration, seizures, coma and even death. HHNS is typically brought on after an illness or infection and only seen in uncontrolled diabetes.

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This complication tends to occur in long-term diabetics. Nerve damage from diabetes causes the slowing of digestion, including other functions. Vomiting, nausea, heartburn, loss of appetite, fullness, bloating and trouble controlling blood sugar are all symptoms of gastroparesis.

Heart disease

Diabetics often suffer from conditions that make the development of heart disease more likely. In fact, a diabetic is considered to be twice as likely to suffer from heart disease. Combined key risk factors include obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, lack of exercise and smoking.

Mental health problems

How diabetes affects mental health is probably the most overlooked complication yet. Studies show, however, that people with diabetes have a greater risk of depression than people without. It has even been suggested that the relationship between diabetes and depression is bidirectional, i.e. each one can cause the other. Anxiety and eating disorders are also very common.

Regardless of the symptoms and complications surrounding diabetes, the medical professionals all seem to agree on the crucial ways to manage it: a good diet and exercise.





National Kidney Foundation



We all have questions.

Below are some of the answers to the most common questions that you need to know.

Which is worse – Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes?

“Worse” is a harsh comparison. The difference between these two types of Diabetes is that Type 1 requires insulin, and it never goes away. Type 2 requires consistent effort and can be managed over your lifetime.

What is the normal HbA1C level?

It is generally accepted that you should maintain HbA1C below 8%. The following guidelines are suggested by the South African Diabetes Association:

  • 4 – 6% Non-diabetic range. 
  • < 7% Well-controlled diabetic 7% – 8% Acceptable diabetic control > 8% 
  • Poor diabetic control needs attention.
What is the main cause of Diabetes?

Diabetes (Type 1) is usually a predisposed or genetically inherited condition. Diabetes (Type 2) is caused by lifestyle choices. Gestational Diabetes can be caused by either genetics or lifestyle choices.

What are the first signs of diabetes?
  • Excessive thirst over a prolonged period.
  • Increased frequency in the need to urinate.
  • Significant weight loss or gain.
  • You find yourself fatigued, tired, and irritable, on a regular basis.
  • Open or ruptured wounds take a long time to heal.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Tingling sensations in your hands and feet.
Can you get life insurance if you have Diabetes?

Yes. AllLife can help you get up to R10million life insurance, as either a Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetic.

Can I test myself for Diabetes?

Although you can easily test your own blood glucose levels at any time, only your doctor, nurse, or clinic team can confirm a Diabetes diagnosis. This is because a series of specific tests are required for diagnosis.

Up to R10 million Life Cover for people living with Diabetes.

Simply fill in your details below and we'll call you back.

What will I be covered for?

With just one phone call, you could be offered comprehensive Diabetic Life Cover and Diabetic Disability Cover (optional). A simple underwriting process is completed once you’ve signed up, usually consisting of common blood tests, to determine if full cover can be continued.

What happens after I‘m covered?

After you’re covered you can enjoy the benefit of our Health Control Programme where we remind and assist you when it comes to regular tests and checkups, ensuring that you live a healthy and happy life.

Remember, life cover gets more expensive as you get older, so your premium will never be lower than it is today.

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*Risk Profile Dependent, Premiums increase by 6% every year and can be reviewed given 30 days' notice.