What Are Possible Results of Uncontrolled Diabetes?

Micah MacBride
Micah MacBride
A person with foot and ankle swelling, which is a sign of diabetes.
A person with foot and ankle swelling, which is a sign of diabetes.

After people eat, their bodies normally convert the food into sugars which the body's cells use to function. The bodies of those with diabetes, however, have difficulty moving these sugars out of their bloodstreams. People can control diabetes with blood sugar monitoring and insulin injections. Diabetics that do not control the condition can suffer from stroke, heart problems, blindness, and circulatory issues that can lead to amputation.

In cases of uncontrolled diabetes, the kidneys may become overtaxed due to large fluctuations in glucose levels.
In cases of uncontrolled diabetes, the kidneys may become overtaxed due to large fluctuations in glucose levels.

The body converts food into a sugar called glucose, and a hormone called insulin enables cells to absorb glucose. Individuals with diabetes have problems moving glucose from the bloodstream into the cells that require energy. This could be a result of the pancreas not producing enough insulin, or the body's own cells having trouble using the insulin that the pancreas does produce. In either case, when glucose is not used by cells, it builds up in the bloodstream. If an individual has uncontrolled diabetes, this excessive concentration can damage several parts of the body.

Ideally, patients with uncontrolled diabetes should be under the care of an endocrinologist.
Ideally, patients with uncontrolled diabetes should be under the care of an endocrinologist.

Heart disease and stroke are among the leading causes of death among diabetics. If an individual does not take steps to control his or her condition, the excessive concentration of glucose in the blood can begin to damage the veins through which it travels. These damaged veins can fail to distribute blood properly throughout the body. This lack of blood circulation can result in part of the brain being deprived of oxygen for an extended period of time, which is also called a stroke. The excess glucose can also damage the heart in the same way that it damages the veins, leading to serious cardiovascular problems.

Up to forty percent of amputations involve patients with diabetes.
Up to forty percent of amputations involve patients with diabetes.

The brain and heart are not the only organs uncontrolled diabetes can harm. High blood sugar can impact the eyes and cause blindness by damaging the retinas, as well as cataracts and glaucoma. The combination of nerve damage and blood vessel damage from excess glucose can also prevent extremities, like the feet, from receiving enough blood, potentially requiring an amputation. Uncontrolled diabetes can also cause gum disease and kidney failure.

Individuals who were born with diabetes, or developed it as children, usually know about their health. These diabetics have Type I diabetes and generally learn how to control blood sugar from an early age. People who develop diabetes as adults have Type II diabetes. Type II diabetics may be more likely to have uncontrolled diabetes because they do not know they have the disease.

In order to prevent the effects of uncontrolled diabetes, people with risk factors should consider being tested for the condition. Risks include having a history of being overweight or having an immediate family member who is diabetic. This testing can also detect when an individual has pre-diabetes, which can develop into Type II diabetes. With proper diet and exercise, someone with pre-diabetes can delay, or prevent, the full onset disease.

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    • A person with foot and ankle swelling, which is a sign of diabetes.
      A person with foot and ankle swelling, which is a sign of diabetes.
    • In cases of uncontrolled diabetes, the kidneys may become overtaxed due to large fluctuations in glucose levels.
      In cases of uncontrolled diabetes, the kidneys may become overtaxed due to large fluctuations in glucose levels.
    • Ideally, patients with uncontrolled diabetes should be under the care of an endocrinologist.
      Ideally, patients with uncontrolled diabetes should be under the care of an endocrinologist.
    • Up to forty percent of amputations involve patients with diabetes.
      Up to forty percent of amputations involve patients with diabetes.