Can You Die from Diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus or simply diabetes is a metabolic disease that has an impact on how your body regulates blood glucose levels. Glucose or blood sugar levels (BSL) are kept in check by the hormone insulin, which increases the uptake and utilization of glucose by cells in order to produce energy. In two major types of diabetes, BSL rises because the body either stops producing insulin completely/sufficient quantity (type 1), or stops responding to insulin due to reduced sensitivity or quantity (type 2). As a result of increased BSL and reduced insulin, a number of systems and functions of the body are affected resulting in long-term complications. But the million dollar question is can you die from diabetes?

Can Anybody Die from Diabetes?

Well, diabetes is one of the leading causes of death and has left breast cancer and AIDS far behind. While most people don’t take diabetes seriously, it must be kept in mind that diabetes doubles the chance of having a heart attack and places one at an increased risk of stroke, circulation problems, heart disease, nerve damage, foot ulcers, blindness and kidney damage.

Life-Threatening Complications of Diabetes

So can you die from diabetes? Yes, they may. If not managed properly and in time, diabetes may lead to may complications, increasing the chances of death.

1. Hypoglycemia

Fluctuating blood sugar levels and resulting symptoms are often what diabetics present with. Diabetic people on insulin may complain of extremely low BSL and this state is known as hypoglycemia, which produces the following symptoms:

  • Palpitations
  • Shakiness
  • Pale skin
  • Sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Hunger
  • Irritability
  • Tingling sensation around the mouth
  • Crying episodes during sleep

Ignoring these symptoms may have serious consequences as the following complications may develop:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Death

2. Insulin Reaction

Severe hypoglycemia or a diabetic shock is an extremely dangerous situation for any diabetics. It’s a consequence of excessive insulin in blood and may occur anytime. Also called an insulin reaction, diabetic shock depicts a severe imbalance between your insulin, intake of food and physical activity. Insulin reaction can occur despite observing necessary diabetes management protocol. While initially the symptoms may seem mild, untimely management and ignorance may worsen the condition and can lead to:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma
  • Death

3. Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Without enough insulin in body, glucose cannot be taken up by cells to produce energy and just keeps rising in the blood. With no option left your body starts breaking down fat to produce energy. As a result, toxic products like ketones are produced, which accumulate in blood and are excreted in the urine. This state is known as diabetic ketoacidosis, which not only can lead to coma but may be life-threatening as well. So can you die from diabetes? The answer is a big yes.

4. Hyperglycemic Hyperosmolar Syndrome

Yet another complication, where production of insulin occurs but the hormone doesn’t function, making all the glucose and fat useless. The sugar level may rise as high as 600mg/dl. This leads to an imbalance in glucose and its excretion in urine. Prompt medical care if not provided, it may lead to coma and death.

5. Diabetic Coma

Dangerously high BSL or hypoglycemia and the fluctuations between both states can lead to diabetic coma, a complication and a medical emergency that can result in:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Permanent brain damage
  • Death

In case of such an emergency, where you feel you might pass out or experience signs and symptoms of extreme blood sugar fluctuation or there is another person losing consciousness, make sure you call your local emergency center.

How to Manage Diabetes Perfectly

Can you die from diabetes? Well, you may die from it, but if it is managed timely and properly, you can live a healthy, happy and long life. Apart from the drug compliance, you might need to make modifications in your lifestyle and dietary routine. Here is how you can manage your diabetes well:

1. Monitor Constantly

This is the key to successful management of the condition. Despite taking medicines and making lifestyle changes, your BSL may fluctuate and the best way to detect them is by monitoring them regularly, like from several times a week to 4-8 times a day. This not only tells about the effectiveness of the treatment being given but also about trends in your BSL. Apart from daily monitoring, A1C levels are a better way of telling about the effectiveness of your treatment by testing BSL for the past 2-3 months. Generally, the American Diabetes Association suggests that diabetics' A1C levels should be below 7.

2. Inject Insulin

Insulin is an option for most type 1 and a few gestational and type 2 diabetics. Depending on your requirements your doctor may prescribe rapid-acting insulin, long-acting insulin and intermediate options.

  • Insulin can’t be taken orally due to the action of enzymes on it and needs to be injected intramuscularly using a fine needle.
  • Another option is an insulin pump programmed to release specific amount of insulin depending on your meals, activity and BSL.
  • Yet another treatment approach is closed loop insulin delivery or the artificial pancreas. The device automatically delvers adequate insulin when monitor indicated the need.

3. Eat healthy

While there’s no specific dietary schedule that needs to be followed by a diabetic, it’s the moderation in diet on which the focus should be. Zero in on:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Fiber rich foods
  • Low fat food
  • Low calorie food
  • Cutting down animal products, carbohydrates and sweet

While kicking sugary stuff totally out of the meal would be wrong, don’t take too much sugar. Once in a while would be good. Quantity is what actually matters and how much amount you need is what a dietitian can tell you by devising a meal plan based on your health goals and lifestyle.

4. Exercise Regularly

Not just for diabetics, physical activity needs to be a part of every one’s routine. Make sure you get a green signal from your doctor before making a routine and then start with a 30 minute exercise schedule on most of the days of a week. Start slowly and increase gradually. Exercise Lowers BSL by increasing glucose uptake and increases your insulin sensitivity.

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