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Why is Diabetes Mellitus Dangerous?

Diabetic patient at the reception of a diaetologist

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease characterized by elevated levels of blood sugar.

Imagine a healthy person eating a sandwich. After food is chewed, it passes from the mouth to the stomach. Food then goes to the intestine, where it is converted into sugar. This sugar enters the bloodstream, binds to insulin, and travels further to give energy to the brain and muscles. As a result, people get a burst of energy after a meal. They are ready to work or study harder. But people with diabetes mellitus are unable to produce insulin, and therefore all sugar that comes from the food accumulates in the blood. This process negatively affects the body, preventing many organs from functioning properly.

Please note that you should not focus on symptoms in the case of diabetes. Adverse consequences appear when high sugar levels have been destroying the organism for several years. The easiest way to prevent the development of diabetes is to see a physician regularly, to control body weight, physical activity, and nutrition. It is essential that older people and those who are at risk monitor their blood glucose levels regularly (people with obesity or hormonal disorders, pregnant women).

Symptoms of Diabetes

As so often the case, people overlook serious symptoms of diabetes, blaming fatigue and stress at work. Try to listen carefully to your body in order not to miss obvious signs of diabetes.

  • you drink a lot and go to the toilet a lot
  • you don't have enough energy. You feel sleepy and sluggish
  • you experience uncontrollable, constant hunger
  • you notice that you have sudden weight gain or weight loss
  • your wounds are slow to heal. For example, insect bites last more than a week
  • you feel numbness or tingling in your fingers and toes

Patients may also complain of itchy skin, dry mucous membranes, headache, problems with attention and memory, blurred vision, and a smell of acetone in the breath. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should contact your physician. 

What Will Happen if Diabetes is Left Untreated? Target Organs in Diabetes

If the treatment plan for diabetes is not correct, it can cause serious consequences, including medical complications and death. 

  • visual impairment and blindness (diabetic retinopathy)
  • serious kidney disease (diabetic nephropathy)
  • cardiovascular disorders
  • vascular lesions (risk of stroke)
  • limb amputation due to gangrene (it most commonly affects the legs)
  • hyperglycemic coma

What Causes Diabetes?

  • Diabetes (especially insulin-dependent type of diabetes) is a hereditary disease. If any of your close relatives are diagnosed with diabetes, make sure to tell your physician about it.
  • Another major cause of diabetes is insulin resistance. It occurs most commonly in obese people, who eat food high in sugar and fat. An unbalanced diet causes spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels. When the body adapts to such sudden changes, it results in decreased insulin production. However, sugar intake remains the same.
  • The most common cause of diabetes in children and adolescents is an autoimmune disease. In this case, the body attacks its own cells in the pancreas. For that reason, the pancreas cannot keep up with the production of insulin. Although some insulin is produced, it is not enough for the complete absorption of sugar.
  • Diabetes can result from various pancreatic diseases (pancreatitis, large cysts, surgery procedures) and some physiological conditions (pregnancy).

Doctors at the Buckhead Clinic have expertise in the management of diabetes. If you test positive for diabetes, our physicians will help you control the disease. They will help you maintain good health.

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Our Doctors

There is no reason to wait days or weeks to see your primary care physician or to go to the emergency room for non-life-threatening conditions.

Dr. Tim Nguyen

Education
Emory University Doctor of Medicine Morehouse School of Medicine Atlanta, GA
Languages spoken
English, Vietnamese
Residency
Atlanta, GA
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Dr. Tim Nguyen