Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Why is diabetes so bad? How can diabetes harm you?

So, people with diabetes can’t process glucose. What’s the big deal? Isn’t that good? Doesn’t that mean they’ll just be skinny the rest of their lives? Not exactly.

Actually, not being able to process glucose, one of the fundamental things from which our bodies get fuel in order to have energy, is VERY dangerous. In layman’s terms, when your body doesn’t make or use insulin properly, it can’t covert glucose into energy for your body to function. All this extra glucose builds up in your blood stream, overflows into your urine, and then passes out of your body! So, you basically lose your body’s main source of energy, even though there’s TONS of it floating around in your blood! This results in high blood glucose levels, A.K.A., high blood sugar.

Prolonged periods of high blood sugar can lead to LOTS of problems, often called “complications" (which to me, seems like a pretty benign term for some serious shiz. I'm just sayin'.) It’s not just a matter of your body not having any energy. Left untreated, diabetes can cause:

  • Neuropathy
  • Kidney Disease
  • Retinopathy
  • Skin Problems
  • Blindness
  • Heart Disease
  • Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
  • Gastroparesis
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Dental Problems
  • Depression
  • Stroke
  • Death
That being said (and so this post isn’t a complete Debbie Downer) there are treatments and many groups are doing research to find a cure! As of right now, though, THERE IS NO CURE and many diabetics develop complications even if they are being treated, because the current treatments are imperfect. Those treatments have, however, significantly increased the life expectancy of diabetics! Hooray!

I will be posting more about treatments for diabetes in a few days! Until then, if you want to read more about the different complications diabetes can cause, the ADA is a great resource for that. Check out this link to learn more!

Next Up: What are the SYMPTOMS of diabetes? How do I know if I have it?


  1. You're doing a GREAT job ! I'm loving the education about Pancreas's !


  2. Wow! You are such helpful! I love your work!

  3. My cousin has type 1 diabetes and whenever she is "low", she drinks a juice box. Juice boxes are high in sugar and so are bananas. Why doesn't she just eat a banana instead? They are so much healthier than those artificial high fructose juices.

    1. Hi Charlotte. When a person with diabetes has low blood sugar, it is literally a life threatening emergency. They need to get sugar into their blood stream as quickly as possible. Your cousin drinks a juice box, as opposed to a banana, because juice absorbs through the digestive tract into the blood stream faster than a banana would. A banana has to be broken down more and would take longer, so juice is actually a safer option for her. Both juice (especially if it's 100% juice) and a banana have the same kind of sugar (fructose), but juice doesn't have to go through some extra steps to digest it. Fructose is not an artificial sugar, it's the sugar that comes naturally in fruit. You're probably thinking of "High fructose corn syrup" which is still a natural sugar, just one made from corn. HFCS has a lot of negativity associated with it, because it is added into a lot of foods unnecessarily. But, when treating a low blood sugar, something that is high in sugar is not such a bad thing. Sometimes with low blood sugar, we are looking for the fastest acting sugar, as opposed to the most healthy option. Hope that sheds some light on why your cousin might be choosing juice over a banana. Most likely, her doctor as well, has told her that juice or glucose tablets are the best treatment for low blood sugar. She's probably just following doctor's advice, and she's definitely doing the right thing. Thanks for commenting!