Diabetes - Medical Malpractice Lawyer
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Diabetes Mellitus - Overview
Diabetes is a group of diseases that have as their outcome high blood sugar. There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that usually strikes children and young adults. These people have lost their insulin-producing islet cells in the pancreas and survive only because they take insulin by injection. The right kind of insulin and the dose of insulin are very important to the control of their blood sugar.
In type II diabetes, the pancreatic islet cells are initially intact; however the cells of the body are what are called “insulin resistant”. This means that insulin levels are very high but the cells do not respond to the insulin and sugar does not get into the cells. The end result is high blood sugar.
Diabetes is chronic, which means that you have it for the rest of your life. Even in type 2 diabetes, the pancreatic islet cells eventually give out, causing the patient to have a need for insulin after many years of being in poor control.
There are acute complications of diabetes, including dangerously high blood sugar and abnormally low sugar levels, called hypoglycemia, which is usually a result of overmedicating the disease.
Diabetes is extremely common, affecting about 2 million people in Canada. An additional 6 million people have pre-diabetes, meaning they may get diabetes in the future. Type 2 diabetes can affect a person at any age but it usually affects people in middle age or older.
Diabetes must be managed carefully so that the insulin levels stay in the normal range. If this doesn’t happen, complications of chronically high blood sugar can occur. These complications include the following:
- Eye complications. Patients can have diabetic retinopathy, which occurs at the time that the patient has diabetes for at least five years. The tiny blood vessels at the back of the eye form small aneurysms that can bleed and can obstruct vision. In the worst cases, you can get detachment and become completely blind. Laser therapy is used to destroy the damaged areas of the eye so that bleeding doesn’t occur.
About half of all diabetics will get diabetic retinopathy after having diabetes for ten years and 80 percent of all diabetics will have diabetic retinopathy. High blood pressure and poor glucose control will make things worse in the eyes.
Diabetics get cataracts and glaucoma at a greater rate than other people. If the blood sugar varies wildly, the lens of the eye will shrink and swell. This leads to blurry vision. Blood sugar needs to be in good control before picking up and choosing eye glasses.
- Diabetics are prone to getting kidney disease called diabetic nephropathy. The kidney gets permanent damage and can suffer a decreased glomerular filtration rate and an increase in the amount of protein leaking from the kidneys. The kidneys eventually lose the ability to filter blood and clean the blood. The patient eventually needs dialysis. This involves using a machine to filter the blood and do the work of the ailing kidney. Some patients are candidates for kidney transplant especially if they don’t tolerate kidney dialysis.
Researchers have determined that the progression of diabetic nephropathy is slowed by having good blood pressure control and being very strict with the blood sugars. Commonly prescribed drugs include angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors) or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs). These drugs not only lower the blood pressure but they protect the kidneys from damage.
Diabetic neuropathy is a small vessel disease that ultimately damages the nerves going to the most distal parts of the body, particularly the feet. Diabetics should check their feet for sores and pay attention to pain in the toes and feet, as well as areas of numbness in the feet. There is medication for the pain of diabetic neuropathy and doctors should check for diabetic neuropathy at every diabetic visit.
Ultimately, these complications depend on maintaining good diabetic control, which is the responsibility of both the doctor and the patient.
Medical Malpractice Lawyers
The medical profession which includes doctors, nurses and hospital technicians usually provides a caring service with a high standard of excellence however there are occasions when things do go wrong. Our litigation service is completely free and our medical malpractice lawyers will deal with your case using a contingency fee arrangement which means that if you don’t succeed in receiving a financial settlement then your lawyer won't get paid.LEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125
The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here