Is Less Diabetes Treatment Better than More?

Diabetes is a dangerous disease as we all know, but how dangerous is the treatment in comparison? It may not be harmful to the younger patients living with diabetes, but as we get older, treatment can itself lead to a tragic turn of events.

For many doctors and patients alike, the goal of diabetes treatment is all about a low hemoglobin A1C, less than seven percent. This means that the average blood sugar of the man or woman is low enough as to prevent the worst of diabetes complications.

This strategy can also do more harm than good in some cases, especially in elderly patients. This is because low blood sugar is a slippery slope for the elderly, resulting in serious complications and even death in some cases.

When blood sugars are below 72mg/dl, roughly translating to a 4% A1C level, most people will develop symptoms of what’s known as hypoglycemia, an unsafe drop in blood sugar. The risk of hypoglycemia is much higher for the elderly.

Hypoglycemia can vary from mild to severe, with the worst case scenarios ranging from confusion or lightheadedness, to coma, falls, abnormal heart rhythms, or even death. This is because the lack of sugar in the brain, resulting in function impairment.

A major risk to men or women whose age has affected their kidneys, which happens naturally as we age, is that this causes insulin and other medicines to build up in the body. Instead of keeping blood sugar level, these medications can cause severe hypoglycemia.

Older patients are also more likely to be on several different medications or be using complex insulin regimens, which increases the chances of a wrong dosage or wrong type of insulin, which can wreak havoc on a person’s body and makes hypoglycemia much more likely.

Finally, the lack of warning signs for elderly patients makes hypoglycemia a silent threat. For younger people, a mild drop in blood sugar is much more noticeable than in older people, leaving less time to react and stop the onset of hypoglycemia.

The results of hypoglycemia increase in deadliness when the patient is behind the wheel of a car, and this has led to many crashes and injuries which might have only been minor events of wooziness otherwise.

This danger has known for a couple years, and many doctors have altered their practices to have A1C goals for every individual, so as to keep them safe in the balance between diabetes and hypoglycemia, but it is still a good idea to know the symptoms so you can catch it if need be:

-blurry vision -rapid heartbeat -sudden mood changes -sudden nervousness -unexplained fatigue -pale skin –headache –hunger

So be careful, but don’t let fear rule you, because all it takes is a clear head, healthy habits, and a good doctor to decrease the odds of such a dangerous event.

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