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Diabetes and Blood Sugar Emergencies

People Die from Diabetes Every Day

For three decades, millions of people invited him into their homes as he broadcast Atlanta Braves baseball to the world. Skip Caray called the plays, told stories, and was like an uncle who showed up day after day to make us smile. Skip Caray died from the complications of diabetes.

Diabetes is pretty easy to understand. The body needs glucose (or sugar) as a power source for metabolism. Insulin, a molecule made in the pancreas, acts as a key to open cell doors and allow glucose to enter cells from the bloodstream and allow the necessary power generation to happen. In healthy people, the pancreas can help regulate blood sugar levels and make certain that cells get the energy source they need. In people with diabetes, the system doesn't work; either the pancreas doesn't make any insulin, doesn't make enough insulin, or makes insulin that isn't effective. This causes blood sugar levels to rise, cells to malfunction, and the body to break down.

What Is the Treatment for Diabetes?

The treatment of diabetes is theoretically easy. Balance the glucose intake in the diet with the amount of energy the body needs to do its chores, and then add medications by mouth or insulin injections to make it all happen. Reality isn't that easy, and for many people, poorly controlled diabetes leads to problems years later. Small blood vessels start to become narrow and fragile. Organs lose blood supply and begin to fail, slowly at first, but then life-threatening events can occur. Heart attacks, kidney failure, poor circulation in the feet (sometimes requiring amputation), and blindness are just some of the effects of blood sugar levels that remain chronically too high.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/21/2017

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