When we hear "diabetes," we tend to think of problems with producing insulin and regulating blood sugar. And that's definitely a key part of this chronic disease, which affects an estimated 1.2 million Australians. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

"Diabetes is like termites, in that it causes slow, hidden, but significant damage in the body," says Dr Osama Hamdy. "Most patients with type 2 diabetes die from a heart attack," Hamdy says, "but because the disease doesn't have many symptoms, people tend to take it lightly." And evidence continues to mount that diabetes affects every system in the body and can wreak havoc if it's not well managed.

Learn more below about the side effects of diabetes and how you can protect yourself from complications. The good news: most complications can be avoided by following the treatment plan set out by your doctor. 

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