Can diabetes kill you?
Diabetes is a chronic health condition, whereby the body does not properly process and use glucose from the food we eat due to insufficient production of glucose in the body or due to insulin resistance. What that mean is that diabetes is developed when the cells in your muscles, fat, and liver do not respond well to insulin or when there is not enough insulin to properly process glucose.
Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas to help with the process of glucose metabolism (the breakdown of glucose), so that glucose from the food we eat enters our bloodstream, where it is distributed into various organs and tissues of the body, providing energy for them to function properly.
Now, if your cells are being resistant to insulin or your body is not producing enough insulin, the process described above will not be carried out and that results in the buildup of glucose in the bloodstream. This is the chronic condition known as diabetes.
TYPES OF DIABETES
There are basically 2 types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2, but there is also the prediabetes and gestational diabetes.
1. Type 1 Diabetes: This is an autoimmune disease in which the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas are destroyed because the body attacks itself. It is also known as Insulin-dependent diabetes because people who suffer from this type of diabetes are required to take insulin shots every day.
2. Type 2 Diabetes: In this case, it is either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells of the body do not respond to the insulin produced. It is the most common type of diabetes. About 95% of diabetics have the Type 2 diabetes.
3. Prediabetes: This type of diabetes occurs between the Type 1 and 2 diabetes. Here your blood sugar levels are above normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed with a Type 2 diabetes.
4. Gestational Diabetes: This sometimes is a temporary diabetes as it occurs during pregnancy in some women, and goes away later, after the pregnancy. However, women who develop this type of diabetes during pregnancy are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later on in life.
CAUSES OF DIABETES
Generally, diabetes develops because the level of blood sugar is high. However, the type of diabetes you have depends on your blood sugar level.
1. Type 1 Diabetes: The attack on the pancreas insulin-producing cells, which causes the buildup of glucose in the bloodstream could be as a result of a genetic factor or a virus that triggers the body to attack itself.
2. Type 2 and Prediabetes: The cause of these types of diabetes is insulin resistance. Your body’s cells do not allow insulin to function as it should, and the pancreas can’t keep up to overcome this resistance.
3. Gestational Diabetes: The cause of this type of diabetes is also insulin resistance. The hormones produced by the placenta during pregnancy create this insulin resistance in the cells.
SYMPTOMS OF DIABETES
The buildup of glucose will result in symptoms such as:
- Frequent urination
- Dry skin
- Increased thirst
- Blurred vision
- Sudden weight loss
- Numbness or tingling sensation in the hands or feet
- Slow-healing of sores or wounds
CAN DIABETES KILL YOU
Diabetes has a devastating effect on almost every body system; kidneys, legs, nerves, and even the eyes. Yes, diabetes can kill you if you leave the condition unchecked. A research report suggested that diabeties have a high mortality rate as compared with the general population. Diabetes can kill when several complications arise as a result of an unchecked diabetic condition.
COMPLICATIONS OF DIABETES
Here are some common complications of diabetes that result in death:
This complication is more common in people with Type 1 diabetes, however, it could also be found in people with Type 2 diabetes. Diabetic ketoacidosis is a life-threatening diabetes complication that occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin. With a limited supply of insulin, sugar cannot be stored in the cells to be used as energy, so it builds up in the blood.
The body cannot function without energy, so it goes to a backup energy system fat. The body breaks down fat for energy, which in the process releases fatty acids and ketones. Ketones are used as an alternative form of energy.
Having ketones in the bloodstream is not dangerous until it becomes much, then it becomes a problem especially for diabetics, as their kidneys will not be able to get rid of them quickly. Diabetic ketoacidosis is the result of excess ketone buildup in the body that then becomes acidic, and every minute this complication is not treated brings the patient a minute closer to death.
Because of the buildup of sugar in the blood vessels, this causes the blood vessels to be damaged, and when they do, blood and oxygen circulation is either completely stopped or slowed. This then extends to cause damage to the organs of the body such as the kidneys, consequently resulting in kidney failure, which in some cases requires dialysis. When this is not treated on time, the result is often fatal.
This complication could also result in blindness and nerve damage in the legs, in some cases, the leg or feet may need to be amputated.
INCREASED RISK OF A CARDIOVASCULAR PROBLEM
Diabetes sometimes occurs alongside other conditions like obesity, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure, hence, it is important to maintain a healthy weight by eating a balanced diet and getting physically active, so that you can reduce the chance of developing any of these conditions because a combination of any of them with diabetes can be life-threatening. About two-thirds of people with diabetes die from a cardiovascular conditions like heart attack and strokes.
VERY-LOW BLOOD SUGAR
In trying to regulate blood sugar, you may overdo it. If you take so much insulin, your blood sugar level could go below normal and this starves the brain of oxygen and could trigger arrhythmias. Arrhythmias is the improper or irregular beating of the heart, whether too slow or too fast. In any case, low blood sugar can cause seizures, coma, or even death.
A diabetic coma is another life-threatening diabetes complication that causes unconsciousness. It can occur in either low or high blood sugar conditions. It is a medical emergency in which a diabetic passes out and cannot respond to events around them; sights, sounds, or any type of stimulation. Immediate medical attention should be given in such a case or it can be fatal for the victim.
HOW TO MANAGE DIABETES
There is no cure for diabetes, but there are approaches that could help you manage the condition so you will be safe from developing any further complications that could result in death.
1. MEDICATIONS: Your doctor may prescribe medications such as amylinomimetic drugs, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, and insulin injections, to help maintain your blood sugar level. In many cases, medications for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart health are also prescribed, to help prevent or reduce the risk of possible complications.
2. LIFESTYLE CHANGES: It can be overwhelming to manage a chronic condition such as diabetes, but for the sake of your health, you will have to adapt to making changes that will improve your health such as dietary changes. You should eat more of a diet high in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein and limit foods high in sugar, salt, and fat.
A pregnant diabetic patient should try some gestational snacks to add some valuable nutrients to what she takes in. You should also try to stay physically active for at least 30 minutes every day, cut down or avoid smoking or drinking alcohol completely, and regularly check your blood sugar, cholesterol level, and blood pressure.
If diabetes goes unchecked or unmanaged, other health complications can develop, especially since diabetes sometimes comes along with obesity or high cholesterol level, all of which can result in a heart disease, and this can be fatal.
People with diabetes should work together with their doctors to manage and regulate their blood sugar levels. When blood sugar is not regulated, complications such as kidney failure, diabetic ketoacidosis, and diabetic coma could occur and all these are severe complications of diabetes that can kill.
So check with your doctor, take your medications, get physically active, regularly check your blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol levels, and avoid foods rich in sugar, salt, and fat. This way, you manage the condition and reduce the risk of having any of the complications of diabetes.