What Can Happen If We Don’t Treat Our Diabetes?
Nowadays diabetes is on the rise. More than 100 million U.S. adults are now living with diabetes or prediabetes, according to a new report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report finds that as of 2015, 30.3 million Americans – 9.4 percent of the U.S. population – have diabetes.
However, thanks to modern medicine and science, the discovery of a particular disease is not as life-changing and scary as it was before.
These people seem to live healthy, normal lives with the inconvenience of having to watch over their blood glucose levels.
But What If We Don’t Treat It?
Untreated diabetes might lead to life-threatening metabolic crises. If this condition is poorly controlled, it might damage the nerves and blood vessels throughout the body and that over time can result in devastating consequences.
One unfortunate side effect of this is that certain people, mainly younger ones, feel that the metabolic condition is no big deal and usually leave it untreated.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality made a research on this topic. According to the 2012 research around 2.4 % of respondents who had diabetes didn’t use insulin, followed a balanced and healthy diet or took oral drugs.
These people are letting the disease “take its course.” Therefore, the inevitable question comes: What can these people expect in the future?
What Can Happen
The nerves, especially those found in the feet and hands, might be seriously damaged by untreated diabetes. Tingling and numbness in the lower legs and feet, along with the forearms and hands might lead to a condition known by the name glove and stocking neuropathy.
Lowered sensation in the feet might lead to injuries like blisters, and we might not even note the stubbed toes. Blood vessels which are damaged delay the healing and a small injury might rapidly progress to an ulcer.
An untreated infection might cause gangrene, and in that case, amputation might be necessary in order to protect other parts of the body.
If we don’t treat this serious disease, it might be fatal. One such short-term complication which is a dangerous and rapidly progressing condition is diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).
Low levels of insulin lead to building up of sugar in the blood. What the body does is that it dissolves fat for fuel and that leads to byproducts buildup by the name ketones and also to lower blood pH.
Common signs of DKA are the fruity smell of the breath, breathing which sounds like sighs, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, confusion, and lightheadedness.
Furthermore, infections, trauma, and stress increase the risk of DKA. Another dangerous complication is a hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state, i.e., HHS.
Its symptoms are dehydration, weakness, abdominal bloating, leg cramps, low-grade fever, and visual issues. HHS is more common in older adults with type 2 diabetes. Moreover, HHS develops with high blood glucose levels.
Both HHS and DKA are medical emergencies which are life-threatening.
Kidney and Heart Damage
People who don’t control this metabolic condition have an increased risk of severe damage to the kidneys and heart.
Such severe damage is blockage of the coronary arteries. This usually occurs in younger people. The CDC reports that people who have this disease are actually twice as likely to have strokes and heart attacks than healthy people.
Another possible consequence might be damage to kidneys and their small blood vessels that eventually might cause kidney failure.
People who have end-stage of kidney failure need a kidney transplant or dialysis on a regular basis in order to survive.
Overgrowth of new vessels and blood vessel leakage might damage the eye that is the vision perceiving portion.
These changes are known by the name of diabetic retinopathy. Moreover, there is an increased risk for glaucoma and cataracts. Any of these eye diseases related to the metabolic condition might cause partial or even total loss of vision.
Where We Can Get Help
According to the AHRQ study, few respondents didn’t treat their diabetes due to economic reasons. These people either lacked the income to follow a proper diet or lacked insurance.
That is why they choose to go for sugary processed, cheap foods. In case someone is not taking control of their disease due to economic reasons, they should know that there are many options at disposal.
In case the doctor is not able to provide reduced or deferred payments for their diabetes treatment, they can check with the local hospitals which might offer “compassionate care.”
Moreover, there are low-cost and free health clinics in communities across the country. Do a small research and find them. One resource to find these clinics is The National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics.
Furthermore, this information should have the local Department of Welfare office.
We Should Do It For Ourselves
Take action, do homework, find ways to treat the disease and take care of it.