While diabetes can be deadly, the long term prospects for diabetics today is MUCH better than it was just a few years ago.
Long Term Prospects for Diabetics
I don't know if it's good news or bad news, but the long term prospects for a person with diabetes are not set in stone. If there is good news in this, however, it is that in many cases, the long term prospects are, at least in part, a matter of choice.
First, we must understand that there are many possible complications that come with diabetes. This is a given and must be dealt with.
Diabetics who are on insulin may experience a low blood glucose level, or hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia can lead to several ill effects. In a few extreme cases, coma is possible. More commonly, at milder levels, muscle weakness or headache are common.
A condition known as diabetic acidosis may result from missing an insulin dose or as the result of infection or other cause. It can be life threatening. It's most common in Type 1 diabetes, but may possibly be experienced by those who suffer from Type 2 as well.
What happens is that insulin helps regulate blood glucose levels, but, at the same time, also plays a role in burning body fat. When someone's insulin level drops drastically, the body starts to burn fat to produce energy. This produces a characteristic ketone smell from the breath. The body tries to bring the situation under control by inducing rapid breathing. Unfortunately, that strategy can only succeed to a certain degree. The list of bad results from diabetic acidosis is too long to reproduce here, but they range from mildly uncomfortable to deadly.
Another condtion, long term, diabetic
retinopathy, a degeneration of the retina from damaged blood vessels, is another possibility. Kidney malfunction is also a problem, as the kidneys perform their function as a filter less efficiently due to gradual destruction of the glomeruli.
Sounds bad, huh?
Well, you might be happy to learn that, while they ARE possibilities if nothing is done about the condition, none of these events is necessarily inevitable...particularly today.
In the modern world of medicine, the possible long term effects of diabetes are pretty well known and there have been a number of strategies developed for dealing with them.
DO IT YOURSELF
In most cases, accurate and careful self-care is the first line of defense. This will keep glucose and insulin levels where they should be, along with keeping the body fit to deal with the rigors of any problems that occur. It helps greatly to keep blood pressure in check to avoid long term complications from high blood pressure.
While sensible lifestyle choices, including proper nutrition and regular exercise, are a great help, there are longer term prospects on the horizon. Type 1 diabetes is the result of lowered insulin production and Type 2 of inefficient use (insulin resistance). Insulin levels can be adjusted by means other than drugs or diet. While there are other types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2 account for over 95% of all chronic cases.
Beyond exercise, nutrition, and introduction of insulin, generally through self-injection, two possible ways of controlling diabetes are by means of gene therapy or organ transplant.
Organ transplantation of a defective pancreas is a possible option for those who have Type 1 diabetes. Like other organ transplants, this is a serious procedure, and not for everyone. However, the surgery has come a long way over the past 30 years, as have many other types of transplant. There are also more effective immunosuppressive drugs to reduce the odds of rejection. Science never stops and some gene therapy techniques are being developed to eliminate even the need for that.
More than its role as an adjunct in aiding in immune system suppression, gene therapy can have an even more direct role in protecting against the negative effects of diabetes. Research presently being conducted is intended to correct autoimmune disorders, one type of which causes Type 1 diabetes.
Even Type 2 diabetes sufferers have hope as well.
In addition to its other possible benefits, gene therapy holds out the promise of being able to adjust the efficiency with which the body uses insulin (insulin resistance), the major characteristic of Type 2. Gene therapy may be able to affect the gene that controls the production of insulin beta cells.
Research is active and ongoing in many institutions. Some of the best people in the world are working on these problems and there are excellent reasons to hope that in the years to come diabetes may be treated more effectively than today...or even eliminated entirely.
Long Term Prospects for Those Who Have Diabetes
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Page Updated 4:04 PM Friday 9/25/2015