Diabetes has grown to “epidemic” proportions, and the latest statistics revealed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that 30.3 million Americans have diabetes, including the 7.2 million people who weren’t even aware of it. Diabetes is affecting people of all ages, including 132,000 children and adolescents younger than 18 years old. (2)
Bruce C., from Katy, has been a type 2 diabetic for 20 years and has experienced neuropathy and retinopathy for four years. Within weeks of receiving care at Diabetes Relief, Bruce said, “I began to feel my feet again!” Michael W., from Crosby, a type 1 diabetic who also has neuropathy and thyroid disease, said Diabetes Relief “has given me my life back.”
Capsaicin cream (Arthricare, Zostrix) can block pain signals using an ingredient found in hot peppers. Studies haven’t shown this to be helpful in diabetic neuropathy. Capsaicin products cause skin irritation in some people. Capsaicin cream, which is also available as a lotion, jelly, or patch, can be applied to the skin where diabetic nerve pain is strong and temporarily relieve pain.
How does high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) feel? To maintain the right amount of blood sugar, the body needs insulin, a hormone that delivers this sugar to the cells. When insulin is lacking, blood sugar builds up. We describe symptoms of high blood sugar, including fatigue, weight loss, and frequent urination. Learn who is at risk and when to see a doctor here. Read now
A good way to understand the many causes of chronic pain is by considering phantom limb pain. When people lose an arm or leg in an accident or surgery, about half of them will still feel that the limb is there. About half of those people develop serious pain in the phantom limb. Obviously, this isn’t due to physical injury going on in the moment. It’s a misunderstanding by the brain of the signals it is getting and not getting. The brain figures the signals add up to something seriously wrong, so it sends out an urgent pain message.
When Dan Hamilton was diagnosed with T1D in 1972, the doctor told him he wouldn’t live past 50. Fast forward 45 years, and Dan is strong and healthy at 59. He credits his health to the advancements in treatment and care over the years. He has been an early adopter of every technology that has come along, and exercises regularly as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Dr. Fung says he decided to experiment with intermittent fasting because he was frustrated seeing so many diabetic patients with kidney failure. “It occurred to me that fasting was an underutilized therapeutic option for losing weight,” he recalls. “I started doing this five years ago, and a lot of people got incredibly good results – it reversed their diabetes.”
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes were identified as separate conditions for the first time by the Indian physicians Sushruta and Charaka in 400–500 CE with type 1 associated with youth and type 2 with being overweight. The term "mellitus" or "from honey" was added by the Briton John Rolle in the late 1700s to separate the condition from diabetes insipidus, which is also associated with frequent urination. Effective treatment was not developed until the early part of the 20th century, when Canadians Frederick Banting and Charles Herbert Best isolated and purified insulin in 1921 and 1922. This was followed by the development of the long-acting insulin NPH in the 1940s.
The pain of diabetic nerve damage may respond to traditional treatments with certain medications such as gabapentin (Neurontin), phenytoin (Dilantin), and carbamazepine (Tegretol) that are traditionally used in the treatment of seizure disorders. Amitriptyline (Elavil, Endep) and desipramine (Norpraminine) are medications that are traditionally used for depression. While many of these medications are not indicated specifically for the treatment of diabetes related nerve pain, they are used by physicians commonly.
The United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS) was a clinical study conducted by Z that was published in The Lancet in 1998. Around 3,800 people with type 2 diabetes were followed for an average of ten years, and were treated with tight glucose control or the standard of care, and again the treatment arm had far better outcomes. This confirmed the importance of tight glucose control, as well as blood pressure control, for people with this condition.
Scientists and researchers are skeptical about the possibility of a true cure for type 2 diabetes. Michael German, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, believes much of the success in a diabetes cure depends on an individual’s genetic makeup. And the Joslin Diabetes Center, the world’s largest diabetes research center and an affiliate institute of Harvard Medical School, claims that there is no cure for diabetes. Regardless, everyone can agree that an effective cure could put an end to the cycle of suffering for diabetes patients.
The first WHO Global report on diabetes demonstrates that the number of adults living with diabetes has almost quadrupled since 1980 to 422 million adults. Factors driving this dramatic rise, which is largely on account of type 2 diabetes, include overweight and obesity. The new report calls upon governments to ensure that people are able to make healthy choices and that health systems are able to diagnose, treat and care for people with diabetes.
This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.