Maddy Arnstein has lived with T1D for over 50 years. She became involved with JDRF when she saw the dramatic difference technologies like the insulin pump could have on her life. Maddy was quickly drawn to advocacy—initially to help secure continued renewal of funding for the Special Diabetes Program (SDP). But once she started using a continuous glucose monitor, she dedicated herself to fighting for Medicare coverage.
Type 2 DM begins with insulin resistance, a condition in which cells fail to respond to insulin properly. As the disease progresses, a lack of insulin may also develop. This form was previously referred to as "non insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus" (NIDDM) or "adult-onset diabetes". The most common cause is a combination of excessive body weight and insufficient exercise.
Surveys of people with diabetes report rates of chronic pain anywhere from 20% to over 60% — much higher than rates in the general population. The types of pain most often reported by people with diabetes include back pain and neuropathy pain in the feet or hands. (Peripheral neuropathy, or nerve damage in the feet and hands, is a common complication of diabetes.) Headaches and other pain sites are also frequently reported. Many people with diabetes also have arthritis, fibromyalgia (an arthritis-related illness that causes widespread muscle and joint pain and fatigue), or other painful conditions.
Several other signs and symptoms can mark the onset of diabetes although they are not specific to the disease. In addition to the known ones above, they include blurred vision, headache, fatigue, slow healing of cuts, and itchy skin. Prolonged high blood glucose can cause glucose absorption in the lens of the eye, which leads to changes in its shape, resulting in vision changes. Long-term vision loss can also be caused by diabetic retinopathy. A number of skin rashes that can occur in diabetes are collectively known as diabetic dermadromes.
Cataracts and glaucoma are also more common among diabetics. It is also important to note that since the lens of the eye lets water through, if blood sugar concentrations vary a lot, the lens of the eye will shrink and swell with fluid accordingly. As a result, blurry vision is very common in poorly controlled diabetes. Patients are usually discouraged from getting a new eyeglass prescription until their blood sugar is controlled. This allows for a more accurate assessment of what kind of glasses prescription is required.
I am very excited by the closed-loop artificial pancreas trial which is now in its final stages. Professor Roman Hovorka at the University of Cambridge is currently perfecting an algorithm that enables a continuous glucose monitor and an insulin pump to talk to each other, and take over the delivery of insulin throughout the day and night, to keep glucose levels in range.
While scientific controversy still exists over whether a cure for diabetes even exists, the possibility is still bright with current advances in technology. Cutting-edge technologies like stem cells therapies and regenerative medicine are pushing the envelope, and may hold high promise for a potential cure to diabetes, but there’s also still room for advanced oral-based pharmaceuticals to help in the battle against diabetes. Chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes can certainly draw big investments, something we see not just from the above companies but from a well-funded startup called Intarcia Therapeutics that we covered a few years ago when it had raised $759 million. It has now taken in $1.6 billion and is STILL in stage 3 clinical trials more than three years later. In other words, you need more than bright ideas to cure diabetes, but a lot of money to bring these therapies to market.
Many drugs can help calm down overactive pain nerves. These include antiseizure medicines such as gabapentin (brand name Neurontin) and pregabalin (Lyrica). Since seizures are the most obvious case of oversensitive nerves, it makes sense that seizure drugs might help chronic pain. Lyrica seems to have fewer side effects than Neurontin and another drug, Topamax, which often cause mental fogginess.
In 2016, the 2nd Diabetes Surgery Summit released its own guidelines, arguing that surgery should be widely recommended for moderately obese people with diabetes who haven’t responded well to other treatments. They also agreed it should be considered for mildly obese people. And because of how cost-effective surgery is, especially compared to standard treatment, insurance companies should be willing to foot the bill, it said.
Everyone strays; everyone tries to avoid pain instead of learning from it; everyone has ways of escaping anxiety that aren’t productive. At its best, wellness offers habits and practices around which to build a community that will help you feel whole, or at least distract from the sense of inadequacy that drives people to self-injurious behavior—whether it be substance abuse or gambling or mistreating others or spending three hours a day on Instagram despite knowing it makes us feel bad.
If possible, find a pain center that your insurance will pay for. Pain centers should combine physical, mental, and medical approaches and provide support from both professionals and other people living with pain. Some have brief residential programs followed by outpatient services. Most are entirely outpatient, and appointments are scheduled for several times a week at first, until a person’s pain is controlled adequately. A pain center may provide physical therapy, counseling, medication, self-management training, and more.
Founded in 1999, San Diego-based ViaCyte has raised a total of $201.5 million in funding, with major investments from Johnson & Johnson and Bain Capital. ViaCyte is addressing diabetes by developing a technology based on converting stem cells into pancreatic tissue that can produce insulin, and implanting the new tissue into patients inside an immunoprotective device for continuous insulin production.
Many herbal remedies have been used to reduce inflammation and pain. Writing in the online publication U.S. Pharmacist, Antoine Al-Achi, PhD, a Professor of Pharmaceutics at the Campbell University School of Pharmacy in North Carolina, reported that bromelain (pineapple enzyme), curcumin (an antioxidant found in turmeric), echinacea, chamomile, ginger, and arnica have shown anti-inflammatory effects. Preparations of these plant-based supplements are widely available at health-food stores. If you would like to try one or more of these supplements, speak to your doctor first about possible side effects and drug interactions.