How dangerous is Diabetes? More than you think! - GO.CARE Blog

How dangerous is Diabetes?

Author: Jonathan Pham
Review Date: November 13, 2019 | Last Modified: November 29, 2019
How dangerous is Diabetes?

Diabetes is no longer a strange term – in fact, it has become a global phenomenon. As reported by the World Health Organization, the number of diabetics worldwide was about 422 million in 2014. The disease has been a leading cause of death, with approximately 1.6 million people dying from it in 2016. Considering how dangerous it is, it’s time for those who are diagnosed with diabetes to take immediate action – instead of just trying to adapt to it!

Diabetes is characterized by an abnormal increase in the levels of blood sugar (glucose). When you have diabetes, your body loses the ability to control blood sugar. This may result from a lack of a hormone called insulin, or when your body cells develop some kind of resistance against insulin.

Under normal circumstances, insulin acts as the regulator of glucose levels. As your body breaks down the foods you eat into sugar, insulin stimulates your cells to absorb sugar from the bloodstream and store it as energy for later use. In the case of diabetes, this process of glucose absorption is hindered, hence increasing the amount of blood sugar and leading to a wide array of health problems.

Diabetes – more dangerous than you think!

Statistics on diabetes

Despite its lack of acute effects, diabetes has been one of the greatest serial killers for years. According to the American Diabetes Association, among the list of the most common causes of death, diabetes ranks in the 7th position. In 2015, about 252,806 people were reported to have died from diabetes. Not to mention, the disease has been causing terrible financial burdens on society.

Below are the estimated costs of diabetes in the US in 2017:

  • $327 billion for diabetes diagnoses.
  • $237 billion for medical costs.
  • $90 billion caused by a reduction in productivity.

For global statistics, the International Diabetes Federation estimates that 10% of the world’s population is currently living with diabetes. Over the years, the number of those diagnosed with the disease in developing countries has been increasing rapidly. Among the 2.2 million people dying from high blood sugar in 2012, about half of them are less than 70 years old.

Diabetes Infographic

The dreadful effects of diabetes

What happens when you have diabetes?

A long-term loss of control over blood sugar levels will gradually evolve into diabetes. When that happens, you may start noticing the following changes in your body:

  • Extreme hunger & thirst: This is perhaps one of the earliest and notable symptoms of diabetes.
  • Sweet-smelling breath: This is a strong indicator of a high level of ketones in your body – which is a common consequence of high blood sugar.
  • Fatigue: Diabetes impacts the functionality of your pancreas and kidney, hence depriving you of the necessary energy for daily activities and concentration. In addition, it also makes it easier for you to lose consciousness.
  • Excessive urination: Diabetics often need to drink more to quench their insatiable thirst, which then causes them to urinate more frequently.
  • Damage to blood vessels: When there’s too much sugar in the bloodstream, the blood flow will be hindered, hence causing damage to the blood vessels. As a result, the healing of sores and wounds will be significantly slower.
  • Visual disturbance: Damage to the eyes’ blood vessels will affect one’s eyesight. If not treated promptly, the patient will soon lose their vision completely.
  • Cracked skin: The loss of bodily fluids associated with diabetes is accountable for skin dryness, which is often observed in diabetics.

What happens if diabetes goes untreated?

Early diagnosis and treatment will make the disease much more manageable. Otherwise, if it is left untreated, diabetes is capable of completely ruining your life – by giving rise to life-threatening issues such as stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, etc.

Below are some of the most common complications that stem from diabetes.

1. Heart problems

Those with diabetes are at a three-fold risk of stroke and heart failure. High blood pressure, in combination with damaged blood vessels, results in increased pressure on the heart. In addition, restricted blood flow decreases the supply of blood to the heart. As a result, diabetics are susceptible to various cardiovascular issues such as coronary arteries and myocardial infarction.

When a patient is afflicted by heart diseases, the risk of death is significantly higher. In fact, it is estimated that cardiovascular diseases are accountable for 75% of deaths from diabetes.

2. Kidney failure

Diabetes is currently one of the most common causes of kidney failure. When the condition has reached its later stages, damage to the kidney is usually irreversible, which requires patients to resort to dialysis or even kidney transplantation.

3. Endocrine and digestive issues

As its insulin level decreases, your body will resort to other hormones in order to create energy. This results in an accumulation of toxic ketones, which can be fatal if left untreated.

On the other hand, diabetics may also be affected by Hyperglycemic Hyperosmolar Syndrome (HHS). This condition is characterized by symptoms like dehydration, leg cramps, and even loss of consciousness. It often occurs in those who are not aware of their diabetic condition, as well as those who fail to control it.

Another complication of diabetes is gastroparesis – which happens when your stomach is unable to properly empty itself. As a result, you may notice symptoms such as heartburn, nausea, and vomiting.

3. Nerve damage

High blood sugar may reduce your sensory perception (i.e: the sense of pain, heat and cold), hence increasing the likelihood of injuries. For men, erectile dysfunction is a possible consequence of nerve damage caused by diabetes.

On the other hand, nerve damage in the feet makes the patient more susceptible to bacterial and yeast infection. This, in turn, may cause noticeable skin problems such as blisters, waxy skin (digital sclerosis), and eruptive xanthomatosis. But that’s not all, as the consequences can be much more terrible. In fact, diabetes is a cause of foot ulcers, which may require patients to cut off their limbs in serious cases.

4. Eye problems

Diabetes results in long-term damage to the retina’s blood vessels, hence increasing the risk of eye issues such as cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and even blindness. According to the WHO, 2.6% of cases of blindness are caused by diabetes

No matter what its type is, diabetes is capable of significantly shortening your lifespan and lowering your quality of life. To prevent this from happening, adapting your lifestyle is not enough – you need to receive effective treatment as early as possible.

How can I treat diabetes?

Conventional treatment for diabetes

The above-mentioned dangers of diabetes are not to be underestimated. Upon noticing any symptoms that we discussed above, you need to take immediate action to prevent further complications – and improve your life quality.

The main focus of diabetes treatment is to control the level of blood sugar. This is achievable – partially – via frequent intake of medications and insulin supplements. However, the conventional pharmaceutical-based approach comes with a wide array of undesirable disadvantages.

  • Firstly, it does not treat the root cause of diabetes, but only supplies your body with additional insulin to temporarily reduce the levels of blood sugar. That means, the disease is still there – left untouched.
  • Secondly, as the effects are only temporary, those with diabetes will need to take medications and receive insulin injections for their whole life. This proves to be detrimental to their overall health in the long run.
  • Despite the initial low cost, frequent insulin injections will end up being very costly.

In more serious cases, pancreas transplantation is another choice, but it requires the availability of donor pancreases – which is not always affordable. Not to mention, many patients still have to return to the pharmaceutical-based treatment a few years after the transplant.

Stem cell therapy for diabetes

The drawback of traditional treatments is that they do not deal with the condition in a “natural” way. Specifically, the pancreas’s failure to produce enough insulin – which is caused by a loss of insulin-producing beta cells – is left intact. For this reason, scientists have been looking for a way to regenerate these beta cells, so that the body can restore its ability to function properly.

Recent advances in biomedicine have opened up a reliable method to achieve this feat – stem cell therapy. Various clinical trials have proven that stem cells can aid in regenerating damaged beta cells and preventing hormone resistance. These effects allow diabetics to experience significant improvements in their condition.

Read more about stem cell therapy for diabetes here. If you are interested in the treatment, contact GO.CARE now via phone/email. We will provide you with as much assistance as possible!

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The Effects of Diabetes on Your Body. https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/effects-on-body. Accessed on November 1, 2019.

Type 2 diabetes. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20351193. Accessed on November 1, 2019.

Understanding the Hidden Dangers of Diabetes. https://www.verywellhealth.com/diabetes-complications-hidden-dangers-of-diabetes-1087631. Accessed on November 1, 2019.

What Increases My Risk of Diabetes? https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/guide/risk-factors-for-diabetes#1. Accessed on November 1, 2019.

Dangers of Diabetes. https://www.everydayhealth.com/type-2-diabetes/symptoms/dangers-of-diabetes/. Accessed on November 1, 2019.

Dangers of Uncontrolled Blood Sugar. https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/uncontrolled-blood-sugar-risks. Accessed on November 1, 2019.

Statistics About Diabetes. https://www.diabetes.org/resources/statistics/statistics-about-diabetes. Accessed on November 1, 2019.

Stories of Hope: A Stem Cell Therapy for Diabetes. https://www.cirm.ca.gov/our-progress/stories-hope-stem-cell-therapy-diabetes. Accessed on November 1, 2019.

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