Diabetes is one of the most common diseases in America and the number of people being affected by it is increasing. A recent survey revealed that more than 30 million Americans are currently suffering from diabetes and are adhering to various means of treatment for the same. The main aim of treating diabetes is to prevent the complications. Let us know what happens if type 2 diabetes is untreated for long.

Being a metabolic disease, diabetes cannot be treated completely but can be managed quite well if the patient takes the right medications, consumes a healthy diet and also makes necessary lifestyle changes. For type 1 diabetes and severe type 2 diabetes, insulin injections become a compulsion.

What Happens if Type 2 Diabetes is Untreated?

What Happens if Type 2 Diabetes is Untreated?

If type 2 diabetes is untreated, it can prove to be very dangerous and also cause major life-threatening crisis. In some cases of untreated diabetes, it can damage the nerves and vessels of the blood throughout the body and cause havoc over time.

Let us analyze what happens if type 2 diabetes is untreated.

Metabolic Issues

A short-term complication of untreated diabetes is ketoacidosis, a condition which progresses rapidly. Sugar buildup occurs in the blood with low insulin levels. The body then breaks down fat for energy and causes a buildup of ketones which are byproducts thereby lowering the blood pH levels. This gives rise to issues such as nausea, vomiting, confusion, dehydration and lightheadedness.

Another metabolic issue of untreated diabetes is HHS or hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state which is quite dangerous in itself. It gives rise to symptoms such as leg cramps, low-grade fever, visual problems, weakness, dehydration and abdominal bloating. The symptoms increase in intensity as the blood sugar levels rise to abnormal levels.

If you know what happens if type 2 diabetes is untreated, you can take the necessary action, against such metabolic problems.

Damage to the Nerves and Amputation

Nerve damage is another major complication of untreated type 2 diabetes. Medically termed as diabetic neuropathy, is a condition that happens if type 2 diabetes is untreated. In this, the nerves of the hands and feet and also other body parts get damaged severely over time. You will start feeling a tingling sensation and numbness in the lower legs, forearms and hands giving rise to a condition called 'glove and stocking neuropathy'. Injuries such as stubbed toes and blisters begin to occur which may go unnoticed due to reduced sensation in the feet. Moreover, untreated infections, skin lesions or injuries can cause gangrene, the treatment of which may require leg amputation to prevent the infection from spreading to the rest of the body.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Eye damage is yet another complication and a serious example of what happens if type 2 diabetes is untreated. Complications such as leakage in the blood vessels and overgrowth of new vessels start to occur and can damage your eye's vision-perceiving portion. Known as diabetic retinopathy, these complications can increase ten-fold over time. Also, untreated diabetes increases the risk of getting eye diseases such as glaucoma and cataract and may also lead to partial or total loss in vision in severe cases.

Damage to Heart and Kidney

The coronary arteries of the heart may begin to get blocked even in young individuals if type 2 diabetes remain untreated. Untreated diabetes also doubles the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

On the other hand, small blood vessels found in the kidney can get damaged if type 2 diabetes is untreated. It leads to kidney failure over time and the patient might require a kidney transplant or regular dialysis to survive in such a scenario.

Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is yet another complication that occurs in several men if their type 2 diabetes is untreated for long. The major cause for it is that the blood vessels or the nerves in the reproductive system either get blocked or damaged due to the high blood sugar levels. In most cases, it is irreversible.

Dental Problems

What happens is when your type 2 diabetes is left untreated it leads to an array of dental problems such as a dry mouth, oral fungus, thrush and even sores and ulcers in the mouth. Moreover, you are also at a greater risk of getting a serious gum disease known as periodontitis in which the gums begin to recede from your teeth and lead to infected pockets being formed in it. Also, harmful bacteria start growing in the saliva due to increased sugar levels in the blood and can cause severe pain and infection in the concerned area. This bacteria mixes with the food you eat to form a sticky and soft film on the teeth causing it to decay rapidly.

Stillbirths and Miscarriage

If a pregnant woman's type 2 diabetes remains untreated it increases the risk of stillbirth and miscarriage. The baby is also at risk of birth defects if your blood sugar levels remain high during the first few months of pregnancy.

Skin Problems

Untreated type 2 diabetes can lead to severe bacterial and fungal infections in the skin. The skin starts becoming rough and dry and nails turn brittle. These infections slowly increase in intensity and may discolor the skin in the long run. Skin infections and such problems usually happen if type 2 diabetes is untreated.

Alzheimer's Disease

The chance of getting Alzheimer's disease increases tremendously if type 2 diabetes remains untreated for long. Though the relation between the two is still unclear, studies reveal that people who have type 2 diabetes untreated run a high risk of developing this disease after 60 years of age.

Conclusion

Most people fail to realize how great a harm their untreated type 2 diabetes can cause and that it can also prove fatal in some cases. It is of utmost importance to control your blood sugar levels when suffering from diabetes and ensure that it stays well within the recommended range.

In some cases, all you need to do is make some minor lifestyle changes, avoid smoking and drinking, resort to physical activity and eat healthy to keep your blood sugar level in check. In other severe cases the patient might need appropriate medicines and injected insulin to control it.

Now that you know what happens if type 2 diabetes is untreated, visit your doctor and find best ways to keep it in check to live long and healthy for the rest of your life.

Also Read:

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: August 22, 2017

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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