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What happens if I don’t manage my diabetes?

So, diabetes causes high blood glucose. Why is that such a bad thing? Glucose is fuel for our bodies, so more fuel available in the blood seems like it would be a good thing, right? Well, no.

When there’s too much glucose circulating in the blood, it attaches to and damages the walls of all of the blood vessels, including veins, arteries, and tiny capillaries that bring fuel and oxygen to all of the body’s cells. It also attaches to hemoglobin, the stuff that makes blood red, and carries oxygen to all your cells. Glucose molecules are sharp, flat little plates, so you can think of uncontrolled diabetes like death by 10 billion paper cuts happening inside your vascular system, 24/7. Ouch.

Too much glucose causes the blood vessels to thicken, and lose elasticity over time. Scar tissue builds up inside the blood vessels. When this happens, not enough blood can get into internal organs and parts of the body that are far from the heart, like the feet. Without good circulation, organs and nerves get damaged, wounds don’t heal very well, and quality of life is affected. The worst part is that stuff like organ damage and nerve damage are permanent, so it’s really important never to get to that point.

Here’s a list of the bad stuff that an uncontrolled diabetic should expect to have happen to them as their disease progresses:

  • Heart and blood vessel disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Blindness
  • Kidney disease
  • Foot ulcers
  • Nervous system disease
  • Amputations
  • Dental disease
  • Complications of pregnancy
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Possible loss of orgasm ability in women
  • Problems with depression and the ability to think
  • Shortened life span, poor quality of life

Oh, and if you have type 1 diabetes and you stop taking your insulin, you will probably die of DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) within a week. Ketoacidosis is a condition in which excessively high glucose becomes toxic and results in coma and death.

All of these conditions will make your life much more challenging. As a person with diabetes, you need to be thoughtful about the decisions you make that could cause these things to happen. Eat modestly, take your medications, monitor your blood glucose, and don’t go a long time with high or low glucose levels. Uncontrolled blood sugar is the leading cause of several conditions that result in a very poor quality of life, or even death.

However, well-controlled diabetes is the leading cause of nothing. This is why it’s essential to take control and integrate good management into your daily life. Many people get overwhelmed by the demands of diabetes, but if you break it down, it’s not all that difficult. You can comfortably work your diabetes management into a daily routine that is doable.

Yes, it’s inconvenient sometimes, and embarrassing sometimes, but looking over this list, would you trade inconvenience for any of these problems? No? Then keep taking positive action to manage your diabetes. These complications can be prevented with dedication to controlling blood sugar. Treatment for diabetes works, but you have to do it, and do it all the time. It’s for life, and yours depends on it.

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