Diabetes is a chronic medical condition that affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels. While it can be managed with proper treatment and lifestyle changes, it can be a serious and potentially dangerous condition if left uncontrolled. The specific risks and complications associated with diabetes can vary depending on factors such as the type of diabetes, the individual’s overall health, and how well the condition is managed.
Some potential risks and complications of uncontrolled diabetes include:
Hyperglycemia: Persistently high blood sugar levels can lead to symptoms such as increased thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, and blurred vision. In severe cases, it can progress to a life-threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).
Hypoglycemia: Low blood sugar levels can result from certain diabetes medications, excessive insulin use, or inadequate food intake. It can cause symptoms like sweating, trembling, confusion, dizziness, and, in severe cases, loss of consciousness or seizures.
Cardiovascular problems: Diabetes can increase the risk of heart disease, including coronary artery disease, heart attack, and stroke. High blood sugar levels and other factors associated with diabetes can damage blood vessels and lead to atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries), increasing the risk of cardiovascular complications.
Kidney damage (nephropathy): Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage the kidneys, leading to diabetic nephropathy. This condition can progress to chronic kidney disease and eventually require dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Eye problems: Diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina (diabetic retinopathy), leading to vision problems and even blindness if left untreated. It can also increase the risk of other eye conditions, such as cataracts and glaucoma.
Nerve damage (neuropathy): Prolonged high blood sugar levels can damage the nerves, resulting in symptoms such as numbness, tingling, pain, and loss of sensation, usually in the feet and hands. It can also affect other organs and systems, including the digestive system (gastroparesis) and the sexual organs.
Foot complications: Diabetes-related nerve damage and poor circulation can lead to foot problems, such as foot ulcers and infections. If not properly managed, these complications can progress to serious infections, gangrene, and even amputation.
Increased infection risk: Diabetes can weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections. Infections, particularly in the urinary tract, skin, and respiratory system, can be more severe and take longer to heal in people with diabetes.
its important to note that with proper management, including regular medical care, a healthy diet, physical activity, monitoring blood sugar levels, and taking prescribed medications, many of these risks and complications can be minimized or prevented. If you have diabetes or are concerned about your risk, it’s crucial to work closely with a healthcare professional to develop an appropriate treatment plan and lifestyle modifications.
Causes of Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a complex condition influenced by a combination of genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors. While the exact causes are not fully understood, several primary factors contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes:
Insulin resistance: In type 2 diabetes, the body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels. Insulin resistance means that the cells in the body do not respond adequately to insulin, resulting in elevated blood sugar levels. The exact reasons for insulin resistance are not completely known, but obesity, physical inactivity, and genetic factors play a role.
Obesity and overweight: Being overweight or obese is a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Excess body fat, particularly around the abdomen, contributes to insulin resistance and increases the likelihood of developing diabetes. Adipose tissue produces hormones and chemicals that can interfere with insulin action.
Sedentary lifestyle: Lack of physical activity and a sedentary lifestyle are associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Regular exercise helps improve insulin sensitivity, control weight, and maintain overall health. Inactivity, on the other hand, can contribute to weight gain, muscle loss, and insulin resistance.
Unhealthy diet: Consuming a diet high in processed foods, sugary beverages, refined carbohydrates, and saturated fats increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. These dietary choices can lead to weight gain, promote inflammation, and contribute to insulin resistance.
Genetic and family history: Family history and genetics play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes. Having a close relative with the condition increases the risk. Certain genetic variations can affect insulin production, insulin action, or other factors involved in blood sugar regulation.
Ethnicity: Some ethnic groups, including African-Americans, Hispanic/Latinos, Native Americans, Asian-Americans, and Pacific Islanders, have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to others. The reasons for these disparities are not entirely understood but likely involve a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors.
Age: The risk of type 2 diabetes increases with age, particularly after the age of 45. This is partially due to factors such as reduced physical activity, muscle loss, and weight gain that commonly occur as people grow older.
The drug industry should not minimize Type 2 diabetes as “just another health problem that can be treated with prescription drugs”. It’s a killer.