Diabetes mellitus (DM), commonly referred to as diabetes, is a group of metabolic disorders in which there are high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period. Symptoms of high blood sugar include frequent urination, increased thirst, and increased hunger. If left untreated, diabetes can cause many complications. Acute complications can include diabetic ketoacidosis, hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state, or death. Serious long-term complications include cardiovascular disease, stroke, chronic kidney disease, foot ulcers, and damage to the eyes.
According to Christine Sullivan, founder of Real Help for Chronic Pain, an online pain management program, “Chronic pain is almost never merely a physical thing. We can see from brain mapping that chronic pain uses very different nerve paths from acute pain. In fact, the brain maps of chronic pain look just like the brain maps of intense emotions like anger, or sadness, or fear.”
A computer-controlled algorithm connects the CGM and insulin pump so they communicate. As the CGM detects high blood sugar, the pump knows to provide a specific amount of insulin. The goal is to provide the patient with more normalized and ideal blood sugar management without the constant hassle of decisions by the patient who is presumably allowed to live a more normal life.
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Learning about the disease and actively participating in the treatment is important, since complications are far less common and less severe in people who have well-managed blood sugar levels. The goal of treatment is an HbA1C level of 6.5%, but should not be lower than that, and may be set higher. Attention is also paid to other health problems that may accelerate the negative effects of diabetes. These include smoking, elevated cholesterol levels, obesity, high blood pressure, and lack of regular exercise. Specialized footwear is widely used to reduce the risk of ulceration, or re-ulceration, in at-risk diabetic feet. Evidence for the efficacy of this remains equivocal, however.
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.
At Diabetes Daily, we prefer using the word remission over cure because far too often the state of diabetes returns even with people’s best efforts. Regardless of the definition of a cure, finding a way to live with little to know highs or lows is a worthwhile endeavor. Long-term studies show that even a few years of great blood sugars significantly reduces your long-term risk of complications.