Jeanette Terry was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 11 years old, and she has since lived with diabetes through difficult life transitions, including the teenage years, college, and having children. She addresses the day-to-day struggles of living with diabetes—going beyond medical advice—to improve overall adherence and management.

There are many people diagnosed with diabetes who don’t understand the implications of choosing not to make lifestyle changes to improve their health. Are you one of them?

The results of a recent survey conducted by Dr. David Strain of the University of Exeter Medical School revealed that 75 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are not very concerned about their future with diabetes and the possible complications that could follow.

“Six out of 10 are at risk of a host of life-threatening complications because they refuse to exercise," he says. "And half of patients increase their chances of debilitating illness or death because they do not change their diet.”

Doctor support is lacking

Interestingly, the survey also revealed that the expectations of many physicians are quite low and that on average they only expect about half of their patients with diabetes to meet blood sugar goals.

So not only are patients not putting forth the effort to improve diabetes control, but in many cases they don’t have the complete support of their doctors to help them get there—which is essential for a successful diabetes treatment plan.

If you feel this is the case, ask your doctor for a recommendation for a Certified Diabetes Educator to add to your healthcare team.

The bottom line

Diabetes may not feel life-threatening at first. But if it's left untreated, and if changes aren’t made to increase blood sugar control and adopt a healthier lifestyle, complications can quickly become life-threatening.

Diabetes will kill you if you don’t treat it. It isn’t a matter of if, it is a matter of when.

Education on the importance of strict diabetes control that includes both diet and exercise appears to be greatly needed, according to this survey. Inform yourself by connecting with other people with diabetes online and reading up on all the latest tips, research, and more. Remember: no one else will take care of your diabetes for you.

Diabetes doesn’t have to control your life, and it doesn’t have to be scary. But it can’t be taken lightly. It does take work and dedication to live a healthier life. In order to continue doing the things that make life fulfilling, you can’t ignore this disease. You must incorporate diet and exercise into everyday life from the very first day of diagnosis.

To learn more on this topic:
How to Find a Diabetes Doctor
Why Diabetes Education is Important For You and Your Family
A Healthy Lifestyle Can Change Your Perspective on Diabetes