Diabetes is a serious condition that can lead to complications if left untreated. Too low a blood glucose level (< 70 mg/dL) can be life-threatening and lead to unconsciousness. High blood glucose levels that have been present for too long can have chronic consequences and affect quality of life. For this reason, it is important to understand the risk of untreated diabetes and how to prevent it. Together with you, we would like to address the issue of sugar in the blood and the potential risks of untreated diabetes.
Diabetes mellitus, also known as diabetes, is a chronic metabolic disease characterized by elevated blood glucose levels. This condition occurs when the body does not produce enough of the hormone insulin or cannot effectively use the insulin that is produced. There are two main types of diabetes - type 1 and type 2.
Type 1 usually occurs in childhood and requires lifelong insulin treatment, while type 2 usually occurs in adulthood and can be treated with a combination of lifestyle changes and medication.
After pancreas surgery, a type 3 diabetes mellitus, the so-called pancreoprive diabetes, can occur. This means an endocrine pancreatic insufficiency and is characterized by a reduced insulin production, thus from the treatment comparable to a type 1 diabetes. This occurs due to diseased or removed pancreatic tissue. Thus, after complete removal of the pancreas, lifelong insulin treatment is required.
After acclimation and practice, many patients report problem-free management and a good quality of life. If short-term hypoglycemia occurs after insulin overdose, we strongly recommend having a glucagon emergency kit with you (pharmacy, prescribed at our consultation or from your primary care physician). The occurrence of such hypoglycemia is very rare, but critical. The intake of sugar or use of the glucagon emergency kit then cancels the hypoglycemia.
A high blood glucose level can be an indication of untreated diabetes. In principle, it can also be an early symptom of pancreatic cancer. There are several symptoms that may indicate that blood glucose levels are too high. These include frequent urination, increased thirst, fatigue and poor performance, and vision problems. Itching and skin infections can also be a sign of high blood sugar. If these symptoms occur or are already known, you should definitely contact us to clarify a possible diabetes and, if necessary, initiate treatment.
A healthy diet is a good preventive measure to keep blood sugar at a normal level. Physical exercise can also help, as it boosts metabolism and increases insulin sensitivity. In the case of type 2 diabetes, weight reduction also helps to keep the disease in check or even cure it. It is also important to avoid alcohol and nicotine consumption, or at least to severely limit them, as both have a negative effect on blood sugar. But the first step in treating and preventing diabetes is to know and monitor blood glucose levels. Nowadays there are technical aids for this, sensors for continuous glucose monitoring (CGM). If you suspect you are suffering from incipient diabetes, we recommend a visit to our pancreas consultation for measurement of fasting blood glucose and HbA1c blood level. Those who already have diabetes are well advised to attend regular check-ups at our center to avoid complications.
Author: Benedict Kinny-Köster, M.D.
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