Diabetes is a worldwide epidemic. In 2014, the number of cases diagnosed reached 422 million — almost four times what it was in 1980, according to the World Health Organization. Because so many women, men, and kids have diabetes, especially Type 2 diabetes, you might think that it’s really not a serious health issue. But it is.
Whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, your pancreas either isn’t producing enough insulin to keep your blood sugar under control or your body isn’t able to use the insulin it does produce. Insulin is essential to your health because it’s the substance that gets digestive sugars out of your blood and into your cells to fuel them and give them energy. Without insulin, your cells don’t get the full benefit of the foods you eat.
When you have diabetes, digestive sugars stay in your blood vessels and remain in circulation. Your body isn’t designed to work efficiently with high levels of circulating blood sugar. If you don’t treat your diabetes and manage your blood glucose (sugar) levels, the excess sugar wreaks havoc on your vessels and organs.
High levels of sugar in your blood vessels narrow them and make them hard so that blood can’t flow through them freely. If you have untreated diabetes, you may be increasing your risk for a heart attack or stroke by two or three times.
Your kidneys get a double whammy from diabetes. First, when the blood vessels in the kidneys are damaged, you’re more likely to experience kidney failure. Second, high blood pressure — which can be a consequence of diabetes — negatively affects kidney function.
Damaged kidneys can’t filter out toxins the way they should. You may need regular dialysis treatments to compensate for dysfunctional kidneys.
When your blood vessels are compromised by diabetes, the circulation to your lower extremities may be impaired, too. Diabetes also can affect sensation in your feet so you don’t notice when you have an infection.
Men and women with poorly managed diabetes are 10 times more likely than others to have a toe, foot, or leg amputated than are healthy people.
Diabetic retinopathy affects the small blood vessels in your eyes. You may see spots or dark strings in your vision and could eventually lose your sight. If you have diabetes, you’re also more likely to develop cataracts and glaucoma, which can lead to blindness.
While you may resist the idea of treating your diabetes because you don’t want to inject yourself with insulin or change your diet, managing your disease is a lot easier than you think. If you have Type 2 diabetes, lifestyle changes alone may be enough to get your blood glucose levels back to normal.
Even if you have Type I diabetes and must self-administer insulin through injections or an insulin pump, simple adjustments to your diet and activity level can aid your health.
At Pure Medicine of Texas, we know that even so-called “easy” changes can be hard to implement. You’re used to certain comfort foods and a certain routine, so giving things up or switching around your daily schedule may feel threatening. That’s why we’re with you every step of the way, helping you gradually improve your health with a plan that makes sense for your needs and your lifestyle.