Diabetes is a fairly common condition, affecting 25.8 million Americans (8.3% of Americans).
Much of the time, people with diabetes are able to manage the condition. However, in some cases the diabetes goes out of control and has extremely severe effects on the sufferer. At times like these, diabetes can become a disabling condition.
If you have diabetes, that means there is a problem with the way your body produces insulin and processes glucose. Glucose is an energy source for your body. Glucose is also known as blood sugar. Insulin is a substance that allows your body to turn glucose from an energy source into energy. In type 1 diabetes, your immune system attacks the pancreas, the part of your body that produces insulin. In type 2 diabetes, your cells stop responding to insulin like they should. In either case, glucose builds up in the blood instead of being broken down into energy.
Some of the symptoms of diabetes are:
• Increased hunger or thirst
• Increased urination
• Weight loss
• Blurred vision
• High blood pressure
• Increased infections
If diabetes is untreated, it can lead to more severe complications, as the excess glucose affects the blood vessels and the organs the blood flows through:
• Cardiovascular problems such as heart attacks or stroke
• Nerve damage
• Kidney damage
• Eye damage
• Foot damage
• Skin and mouth infections
• Alzheimer’s disease
• Higher risk of cancer
The usual treatment for diabetes is insulin injections or medications. You will need to monitor your blood sugar to make sure it doesn’t go too high or low. Doctors also recommend that you eat a diet that avoids too much blood sugar, and that you exercise so that your body can better use up glucose. In very bad cases, your doctor may recommend a pancreas transplant. Diabetes is a lifelong condition.
Diabetes can be considered disabling if it does not respond to treatment, or if the disease has progressed to the severe complications. Extraordinary care must taken to ensure that blood sugar levels stay at a healthy level; otherwise, there could be medical emergencies such as toxins in the body or diabetic coma. The various severe complications have their own problems. For example, heart problems can prevent you from doing physical activity, which in turn would keep you from doing the exercise you need to keep the diabetes under control. As the complications build up, you become steadily more unable to do work that needs those parts of your body to be functioning.