Friday, June 10, 2016

What Type 2 Diabetes Can Actually Mean

There's been a great deal of good news recently about the impact of bariatric surgery on type 2 diabetes, in terms of improving or, in many cases, actually reversing the illness. Still, one issue that just about  all medical professionals come across when trying to persuade patients of the importance of preventing diabetes is that the disease itself, though all too real, can seem like something of abstraction.

The problem is that, on the one hand, type 2 diabetes is a chronic illness that can be managed if patients work hard at maintaining a truly healthy lifestyle. (Easier said than done, of course.) On the other hand, at least in its early stages the disease is typically asymptomatic. Moreover, while most people understand in an abstract way that diabetes makes you prone to more health problems and can easily shorten your lifespan, that's not the same thing as truly understanding what it can do to you.

So, we'll take a second to describe just two specific complications that most people might not know much about but which can be truly devastating. One issue that frightens many diabetics, once they start to develop symptoms, is that the nerve damage that can be caused by diabetes can often threaten the extremities, with far too many patients losing all or part of their feet in particular. Especially as people are aging and concerned with being able to stay active, this consequence is easy to understand.

One that's less well known, but actually far more devastating, is the fact the diabetes, especially in combination with high blood pressure (another very common obesity comorbidity) can essentially destroy kidney function. This puts patients in the terrifying position of having to choose between death and kidney dialysis. While dialysis saves lives, it is a hugely draining and time consuming process that takes about 12 hours a week and has many side-effects, many of which can be unpleasant. While many of us might find it bearable as a temporary stop-gap on the way to a kidney transplant, transplants are difficult to obtain and many older patients in particular might not even be candidates.

Of course, that's just two particular scenarios. Diabetes can also spur such debilitating conditions as strokes, Alzheimer's/dementia, blindness, hearing loss, not to mention the usual laundry list of life-threatening conditions such as heart disease. All of these conditions not only reduce lifespans, their impact on quality of life can be far more severe than you might imagine.

Fortunately, if patients are able to defeat their severe obesity, type 2 diabetes really can be reversed or, at least, greatly lessened in severity. Obviously, that's something we're able to help out with at Dr. Feiz & Associates, If you'd like some help defeating your severe obesity, we're here to help.

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