In the US, 84.1 million adults—more than 1 in 3—have prediabetes, and 90% of them don’t know they have it. Prediabetes is a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as diabetes. Prediabetes increases your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. But through the CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program, you can learn practical, real-life changes that can cut your risk for developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 58% (71% if you’re 60 or older).
Studies in type 1 patients have shown that in intensively treated patients, diabetic eye disease decreased by 76%, kidney disease decreased by 54%, and nerve disease decreased by 60%. More recently the EDIC trial has shown that type 1 diabetes is also associated with increased heart disease, similar to type 2 diabetes. However, the price for aggressive blood sugar control is a two to three fold increase in the incidence of abnormally low blood sugar levels (caused by the diabetes medications). For this reason, tight control of diabetes to achieve glucose levels between 70 to120 mg/dl is not recommended for children under 13 years of age, patients with severe recurrent hypoglycemia, patients unaware of their hypoglycemia, and patients with far advanced diabetes complications. To achieve optimal glucose control without an undue risk of abnormally lowering blood sugar levels, patients with type 1 diabetes must monitor their blood glucose at least four times a day and administer insulin at least three times per day. In patients with type 2 diabetes, aggressive blood sugar control has similar beneficial effects on the eyes, kidneys, nerves and blood vessels.
Insulin is a hormone that is produced by specialized cells (beta cells) of the pancreas. (The pancreas is a deep-seated organ in the abdomen located behind the stomach.) In addition to helping glucose enter the cells, insulin is also important in tightly regulating the level of glucose in the blood. After a meal, the blood glucose level rises. In response to the increased glucose level, the pancreas normally releases more insulin into the bloodstream to help glucose enter the cells and lower blood glucose levels after a meal. When the blood glucose levels are lowered, the insulin release from the pancreas is turned down. It is important to note that even in the fasting state there is a low steady release of insulin than fluctuates a bit and helps to maintain a steady blood sugar level during fasting. In normal individuals, such a regulatory system helps to keep blood glucose levels in a tightly controlled range. As outlined above, in patients with diabetes, the insulin is either absent, relatively insufficient for the body's needs, or not used properly by the body. All of these factors cause elevated levels of blood glucose (hyperglycemia).
As a global network of medical research charities, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) is driving research into new treatments that present tremendous opportunities to deliver enhanced health and wellbeing for people with type-1 diabetes. The technology I am currently most enthused about is glucose responsive insulin, which I think is going to transform how people treat and live with type 1 in the future.
The first step to treating diabetes is testing to determine if a person has the condition in the first place. Routine screening of type 2 diabetes is recommended after the age of 45 by the American Diabetes Association, especially for overweight individuals. Those who are living a sedentary lifestyle or have complicating risks for cardiovascular disease or other metabolic diseases are more likely to be screened earlier. After determining if a patient has diabetes, a physician will usually recommend they undergo a lifestyle change towards healthy diet and exercise, but most people also require the help of diabetes medications and insulin therapy.
Nerves in the legs and feet are often most affected by neuropathy. This can cause you to lose sensation to your feet and legs. Sores and cuts can go unnoticed and lead to infections. In some extreme cases, infections can become severe and lead to ulcers. Over time, this can cause irreparable damage to the soft tissue and lead to the loss of toes or even your foot.
Nerve damage in your feet can cause them to lose sensation. "So you may not realize that you scratched or cut your foot until much later," Sackheim says. As a result, you may develop a more serious problem, like an ulcer or infection. To avoid this, Sackheim says you should clean and examine your feet at the end of each day. "Also make sure that you wear comfortable shoes." Pairs that are too tight can pinch your feet and lead to injury.
Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease, for which there is no known cure except in very specific situations. Management concentrates on keeping blood sugar levels as close to normal, without causing low blood sugar. This can usually be accomplished with a healthy diet, exercise, weight loss, and use of appropriate medications (insulin in the case of type 1 diabetes; oral medications, as well as possibly insulin, in type 2 diabetes).
She says that the problem with diabetes is that it’s a silent disease. “Apart from needing to go to the loo a few times in the middle of the night, I experienced zero symptoms. Diabetes had no impact on my life – 99% of the time I forgot I even had it. Perhaps if it had been a disease with more symptoms, I would have been more motivated to do something about it.”
Type 2 diabetes: Type 2 diabetes affects the way the body uses insulin. While the body still makes insulin, unlike in type I, the cells in the body do not respond to it as effectively as they once did. This is the most common type of diabetes, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and it has strong links with obesity.