The World Health Organization estimates that more than 220 million people worldwide have diabetes and that the disease is responsible for over 1 million deaths. If left untreated type 1 diabetes can be fatal, while type 2 diabetes can cause serious complications including cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, nerve damage, cataract which can lead to blindness, poorly healing wounds and eventually gangrene as well as shorter life expectancy. Untreated gestational diabetes can seriously affect the health of the fetus.
There is no cure for diabetes and it cannot be reversed with exception of gestational diabetes which might disappear after delivery although women with history of gestational diabetes are at greater risk to develop type 2 diabetes. All types of diabetes can be successfully managed with a combination of healthy diet (very helpful might be low glycemic index foods), regular exercise for at least 30 minutes most days of the week, weight loss, self-monitoring blood sugar levels and taking oral medications in type 2 diabetes or insulin injections in type 1 diabetes. Insulin therapy is also required in type 2 diabetes when not responding to oral medications. Gestational diabetes is usually treated with dietary changes and regular exercise, while some women need to take antidiabetic medications as well.
Oral medications and insulin injections alone are not sufficient to successfully manage the disease. Diabetes management is a lifelong process which requires good education and compliance of the patient.