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We all know how critical it is to manage your glucose levels whether you have Type 1 Diabetes or Type 2 Diabetes. Not managing your diabetes could have extremely dangerous consequences like blindness, amputation, heart disease, or even death. But is there a chance that over-treating diabetes could have even worse effects? A recent study from the Mayo Clinic points that direction.
Dr. Rozalina McCoy, a medical professional form the Mayo Clinic recently conducted a study that looked at over 30,000 diabetic adults and how they are treated to manage their diabetes. The researchers looked at which patients were treated more aggressively and how often those patients had dangerously hypoglycemic episodes that required a hospital visit or additional care.
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For this study, “aggressive treatment” was defined as any patient that was having to take more than one medication to control their glucose levels. Of the over 30,000 diabetics that were included in the study, around 20% of them fell into the aggressive treatment category.
The study found that while these medications and treatments were designed to help the patients live a healthy live of managed diabetes, the multiple medications were doing more harm than they were good, especially for older diabetics. Over treating diabetes lead to other problems like fainting, dizziness, coma, and seizures. McCoy stresses that the biggest problems with over treating is in older patients that have other complications aside from diabetes, but there is a lot to be learned for all diabetics.
It’s important to realize the dangers of uncontrolled diabetes, but it’s also to know that taking too medications isn’t the best way to treat diabetes, especially for someone with other health risks. While many people rely on their medications (sometimes several medicines) to keep their glucose levels in the healthy range, using other methods is always the better option.
The researchers also had another interesting lesson, but not for diabetics. Instead, the hope the study teaches doctors a thing or two about treating diabetes. McCoy explained to TIME what they hoped doctors get out of the study, “In an effort to reduce under treatment, and to make sure patients are tested and receive the appropriate treatment medication, we don’t have a counterbalance to ensure that patients are not overtreatment”, and nobody knows the truth of this statement more than the diabetic community.
Naturally, not everyone can control their diabetes using diet and exercise alone, some people need extra assistance from medicines, but these shouldn’t be the automatic answer. Sure, these medications are a great advancement in health care, but medications should never try and replace lifestyle changes. These medicines could become the “easy way out” of diabetes, and many diabetics continue to eat poorly and just take their medications to manage their blood sugar levels. Continuing to prescribe more medications for diabetics could be doing more harm than they are helping.
For most diabetics, this study doesn’t impact them. But for older diabetics that have other health problems, this study should be eye opening, especially if you’re taking multiple diabetes drugs. If you think you are over treated for your diabetes, talk to your doctor about finding different alternatives to keeping your glucose levels in healthy numbers.