Holiday parties were right around the corner, and I needed a cover story. I didn’t feel like admitting to casual acquaintances, or even to some good friends, that I drive a van for Amazon. I decided to tell them, if asked, that I consult for Amazon, which is loosely true: I spend my days consulting a Rabbit, the handheld Android device loaded with the app that tells me where my next stop is, how many packages are coming off the van, and how hopelessly behind I’ve fallen.
When you have type 2 diabetes, your cells don't get enough glucose, which may cause you to lose weight. Also, if you are urinating more frequently because of uncontrolled diabetes, you may lose more calories and water, resulting in weight loss, says Daniel Einhorn, MD, medical director of the Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute and clinical professor of medicine at the University of California in San Diego.
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.
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The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and many other physician groups recommend eating a variety of foods from all food groups: non-starchy vegetables, starchy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, healthy fats, and dairy. They recommend portion control and calorie counting, and also limiting the following:
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.
When 69-year-old Sandi, of Houston, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2007, she was confident she’d be able to manage the disease well. “I felt like, ‘I have this handled, it will be great,’” she recalls. Yet after the death of her best friend, five years ago, she started to experience anxiety and depression, and, she says, “it started manifesting more with my diabetes.”
That is the goal of Imcyse, a French company running a clinical trial with an immunotherapy designed to stop type 1 diabetes. Patients that have been diagnosed within the last 6 months, who still retain some insulin-producing cells, are given a treatment designed to make the immune system destroy the specific immune cells that are attacking insulin-producing cells. Results are expected later this year and will reveal whether the treatment has the potential to become a cure.
In autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes, the immune system mistakenly manufactures antibodies and inflammatory cells that are directed against and cause damage to patients' own body tissues. In persons with type 1 diabetes, the beta cells of the pancreas, which are responsible for insulin production, are attacked by the misdirected immune system. It is believed that the tendency to develop abnormal antibodies in type 1 diabetes is, in part, genetically inherited, though the details are not fully understood.
Aside from the financial costs of diabetes, the more frightening findings are the complications and co-existing conditions. In 2014, 7.2 million hospital discharges were reported with diabetes as a listed diagnosis. Patients with diabetes were treated for major cardiovascular diseases, ischemic heart disease, stroke, lower-extremity amputation and diabetic ketoacidosis.
If the amount of insulin available is insufficient, or if cells respond poorly to the effects of insulin (insulin insensitivity or insulin resistance), or if the insulin itself is defective, then glucose will not be absorbed properly by the body cells that require it, and it will not be stored appropriately in the liver and muscles. The net effect is persistently high levels of blood glucose, poor protein synthesis, and other metabolic derangements, such as acidosis.
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After rising to MySpace fame in the mid-aughts, the singer-songwriter Kaila Yu amassed a following of nearly half a million fans on Facebook and 70,000 on Twitter and Instagram. Like all “influencers”—people who leverage a social-media following to influence others—Yu now makes her living monetizing her audience with branded content, promoting products and events through sponsored posts.
People with diabetes can benefit from education about the disease and treatment, good nutrition to achieve a normal body weight, and exercise, with the goal of keeping both short-term and long-term blood glucose levels within acceptable bounds. In addition, given the associated higher risks of cardiovascular disease, lifestyle modifications are recommended to control blood pressure.
Ariana Shakibinia decided to study public health in large part because she lives with T1D. She had always been interested in public policy, but she says living with this disease has made her more vested in the healthcare conversation. “I am living with what is essentially a pre-existing condition. I’m fortunate enough to have good health insurance, but it makes the potential financial burden of T1D management much more visible and relatable.”
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For a wellness festival, there was an unexpected amount of talk about the importance of suffering and pain. In one panel about addiction, the ultramarathoner Charlie Engle, who ran 30 marathons in his first three years of sobriety, told the story of his first son being born. “He was gonna save me,” Engle recalled, “and then six days later, after a crack binge, the police are searching my car, and I had to choose between living and dying. And I chose running ... I wanted to pound that part of me out and never visit it again.”
In 1991, the National Institutes of Health issued a consensus statement, cautiously recommending surgery as a treatment for people living with morbid obesity, meaning they have a body mass index, or BMI, over 40. For people who have health complications connected to obesity, such as type 2 diabetes, the limit goes down to a BMI of 35. Relying on these guidelines, insurance companies and public payers like Medicaid and Medicare typically only cover surgery for people living with diabetes who fall into that category.
In diabetes, either the pancreas makes insufficient levels of insulin so cells absorb glucose poorly or cells themselves become insulin resistant and thus unable to absorb glucose despite adequate insulin levels. Both types of change increase blood sugar levels above normal. Parsed this way, type I and type II diabetes overlap some but also differ.
Pain has been shown to interfere with self-management activities, sleep, physical functioning, work, family relationships, mood, and quality of life. To make matters worse, pain is often invisible to others, so family members, coworkers, and health-care professionals often have no idea what a person in pain is going through. Many people feel that their physicians don’t understand and tell them they “just have to live with it.”
Insulin serves as a “key” to open your cells, to allow the glucose to enter -- and allow you to use the glucose for energy. Without insulin, there is no “key.” So, the sugar stays -- and builds up-- in the blood. The result: the body’s cells starve from the lack of glucose. And, if left untreated, the high level of “blood sugar” can damage eyes, kidneys, nerves, and the heart, and can also lead to coma and death.