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Community Q&A: Diabetic Patients’ Questions and Answers

What are the potential risks and dangers of not managing diabetes or leaving it untreated?

Not managing or leaving diabetes untreated can lead to various potential risks and dangers to overall health and well-being. Here are some of the potential consequences of uncontrolled diabetes:

High Blood Sugar (Hyperglycemia): Persistently elevated blood sugar levels can lead to symptoms such as increased thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, blurred vision, and slow wound healing. If left untreated, hyperglycemia can become severe and result in a dangerous condition called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) in type 1 diabetes or hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state (HHS) in type 2 diabetes. Both conditions require immediate medical attention.

Cardiovascular Complications: Diabetes significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Uncontrolled diabetes can damage blood vessels and lead to atherosclerosis (narrowing and hardening of the arteries), increasing the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral artery disease. It can also contribute to high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels, further escalating the risk of cardiovascular complications.

Kidney Damage (Diabetic Nephropathy): Uncontrolled diabetes can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys, leading to a condition called diabetic nephropathy. Over time, this can progress to chronic kidney disease and may require dialysis or kidney transplantation.

Nerve Damage (Diabetic Neuropathy): Diabetes can cause nerve damage, leading to symptoms such as numbness, tingling, and pain, particularly in the hands and feet. Diabetic neuropathy can also affect other organs, including the digestive system, urinary system, and sexual organs.

Eye Problems (Diabetic Retinopathy): Uncontrolled diabetes can damage the blood vessels in the retina, leading to a condition called diabetic retinopathy. If left untreated, it can cause vision loss and blindness.

Foot Complications: Diabetes can impair blood flow and damage nerves in the feet, increasing the risk of foot ulcers, infections, and, in severe cases, amputation.

Increased Infection Risk: Uncontrolled diabetes weakens the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections. Common infections among people with diabetes include urinary tract infections, skin infections, and fungal infections.

Complications in Pregnancy: Uncontrolled diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) can pose risks to both the mother and the baby. It can increase the likelihood of preeclampsia, premature birth, birth defects, and macrosomia (large birth weight).

Mental Health Impact: The burden of managing a chronic condition like diabetes, along with the potential complications, can lead to emotional stress, anxiety, and depression.

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