When people hear the word CANCER or LOU GEHRIG’S DISEASE it creates significant fear and emotional duress. These diagnoses create fear and the belief that death is imminent. They incite ACTION.
When people hear the word DIABETES, they think of insulin. They shrug their shoulders at the serious dangers this disease produces. They believe that oral or injectable medications will provide the “SOLUTION” to live out a typically normal life without truly altering their lifestyle. This disease DOES NOT CAUSE FEAR! Why is that?
Is it because it has become viewed as a chronic condition rather than a LIFE THREATENING DISEASE like cancer? How can the 7th leading cause of death amounting to 4.9 million people (1 DEATH EVERY 7 SECONDS) be so INCORRECTLY assessed by our society? Is it possible that my colleagues have attempted to be good humanitarians and soften the blow of this dangerous disease by creating a false belief that pharmaceutical intervention “FIXES” the harmful effects of this disease? Well, this doctor is going to lay it on the line hoping the reality of its message will place both fear and respect of this disease in the same category as any other “terminal disease.” Understand, just because the survival period may exceed other terminal illnesses, doesn’t make it any less lethal.
First, let’s start with an example of a 45 yr. old and some simple statistics:
45 yr. old PRE-diabetics have a 74% chance of developing full blown diabetes.
45 yr. old PRE-diabetics with a HEALTHY BMI (Body Mass Index- a measurement of body mass to height and body weight evaluating health risks) have a 35.9% chance of developing full blown diabetes while those with a BMI >35 (morbidly obese) have an 80.9% chance. This shows that better than 1 in 3 recording a HEALTHY ratio of mass to height and body weight will STILL DEVELOP FULL BLOWN DIABETES.
45 yr. old persons diagnosed by their physicians with Diabetes were prescribed pharmaceutical treatments. 49% of this group began insulin. More than half of this age group chose to do NOTHING. This fact awakened my brain to the realization that the diagnosis of Diabetes did not produce the fear it should have.
Finally, a 45 yr. old healthy person had a 48.7% chance of developing PRE-Diabetes and a 31.3% of developing full blown Diabetes.
***(These previous statistics can be found at: Progression From Pre-Diabetes to Type 2 Diabetes)
Most people diagnosed with Diabetes are under the assumption they can basically live their life normally (defined as the way they choose to.) They believe doctors prescribing drugs manage this disease similar to high blood pressure. This is not true. To increase the chances of living a quality of life sustainable for the duration without suffering the severe consequences of this disease, a great deal of effort and education is required. Since most people do not realize this fact or are unwilling to accept the disease and its tragic consequences if not addressed properly (meaning more than simply taking insulin and other pharmacological agents) many people succumb to:
Cardiovascular Disease– Diabetes dramatically increases the risk of various cardiovascular problems, including coronary artery disease with chest pain (angina), heart attack, stroke and narrowing of arteries (atherosclerosis).
Nerve damage (neuropathy)– Excess sugar can injure the walls of the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) that nourish your nerves, especially in your legs. This can cause tingling, numbness, burning or pain that usually begins at the tips of the toes or fingers and gradually spreads upward. Left untreated, you could lose all sense of feeling in the affected limbs. Damage to the nerves related to digestion can cause problems with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. For men, it may lead to erectile dysfunction.
Kidney damage (nephropathy)- The kidneys contain millions of tiny blood vessel clusters (glomeruli) that filter waste from your blood. Diabetes can damage this delicate filtering system. Severe damage can lead to kidney failure or irreversible end-stage kidney disease, which may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Eye damage (retinopathy)- Diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the retina (diabetic retinopathy), potentially leading to blindness. Diabetes also increases the risk of other vision conditions, including cataracts and glaucoma.
Foot damage- Nerve damage in the feet or poor blood flow to the feet increases the risk of various foot complications. Infections resulting from untreated, cuts and blisters often become opportunistic and prevent the body from healing. As these infections spread, they create enormous pain and threaten the body by toxifying the blood supply. In an attempt to save the diabetic’s life, amputations are commonly performed on the toes, feet and legs.
Skin conditions- Diabetes may leave you more susceptible to skin problems, including bacterial and fungal infections. This requires frequent use of antibiotics that lead to gastrointestinal complications causing severe pain and malabsorption. This, in turn, can lead to a “wasting away” condition known as diabetic neuropathic cachexia. This condition is similar in symptoms to the wasting away evidenced in many cancer patients.
Just because a person can SURVIVE with diabetes for years does NOT MEAN a person is LIVING A LIFE OF QUALITY. Underestimating the dangers of this disease has created more unnecessary complications to both victims of this dreaded disease as well as their families.
Just like any disease, some types of Diabetes are not preventable. Regardless, recognizing the devastating effects of this disease should alter everyone’s view and understanding and create an increased level of responsibility when confronted with this diagnosis. For many, poor lifestyle choices have played a vital component leading to the diagnosis. Naturally, there are many other factors that lead to it as well.
NOW THE REALITY
IS THIS OR THIS
THIS OR THIS