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.
The 1989 "St. Vincent Declaration" was the result of international efforts to improve the care accorded to those with diabetes. Doing so is important not only in terms of quality of life and life expectancy but also economically – expenses due to diabetes have been shown to be a major drain on health – and productivity-related resources for healthcare systems and governments.
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).
A 2018 study suggested that three types should be abandoned as too simplistic. It classified diabetes into five subgroups, with what is typically described as type 1 and autoimmune late-onset diabetes categorized as one group, whereas type 2 encompasses four categories. This is hoped to improve diabetes treatment by tailoring it more specifically to the subgroups.
“Diabetes type 1 is very different from your standard disease. Insulin requirements vary greatly from one day to another and there is no way patients can know what they need,” Roman Hovorka, Professor at the University of Cambridge, explained to me during an interview. His research group is working on the development of an algorithm that can accurately predict insulin requirements for a specific patient at any moment.
The practice of paying children an allowance kicked off in earnest about 100 years ago. “The motivation was twofold,” says Steven Mintz, a historian of childhood at the University of Texas at Austin. “First, to provide kids with the money that they needed to participate in the emerging commercial culture—allowing them to buy candy, cheap toys, and other inexpensive products—and second, to teach them the value of money.”
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)
Exercise is often one of the best treatments for pain. Responding to an entry on pain in the Diabetes Self-Management blog, a Canadian man with Type 2 diabetes reported, “I have cured my back pain completely since starting weight-lifting exercises 18 months ago. I do horizontal and inclined bench presses. I started with 50 lbs and built to 150 lbs. The benches provide complete back support.”
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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.
Other studies have found that people with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes can go into remission through changes to their dietary and exercise habits. People who manage to achieve this with food alone will often express their excitement publicly by claiming they “cured” their diabetes with their diet. In reality, the likely put it into remission, though that remission can last a very long time.
The NIH National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Diseases and Kidney Diseases says it, “currently supports studies that are working toward obtaining FDA licensure to reclassify islet allo-transplantation as therapeutic. In other countries, such as Canada and Scandinavia, islet allo-transplantation is no longer considered experimental and is an accepted therapy in certain patients.” It adds that “Some patient advocates and islet researchers feel that islet allo-transplantation is close to having a therapeutic label.”
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.
Type 2 DM is primarily due to lifestyle factors and genetics. A number of lifestyle factors are known to be important to the development of type 2 DM, including obesity (defined by a body mass index of greater than 30), lack of physical activity, poor diet, stress, and urbanization. Excess body fat is associated with 30% of cases in those of Chinese and Japanese descent, 60–80% of cases in those of European and African descent, and 100% of Pima Indians and Pacific Islanders. Even those who are not obese often have a high waist–hip ratio.
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.
For 15 years, Erez Benari’s struggle with his type 2 diabetes had been a losing one. A software engineer at Microsoft in Seattle, Washington, Benari had stuck to a restrictive diet that kept him off most carbs, along with regular insulin shots. But still, his high blood sugar levels never dropped, while his health continued to decline. In 2013, the then 39-year-old Benari suffered a heart attack.
The relationship between type 2 diabetes and the main modifiable risk factors (excess weight, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and tobacco use) is similar in all regions of the world. There is growing evidence that the underlying determinants of diabetes are a reflection of the major forces driving social, economic and cultural change: globalization, urbanization, population aging, and the general health policy environment.
Beware of claims that seem too good to be true. Look for scientific-based sources of information. The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse collects resource information for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Reference Collection, a service of the National Institutes of Health. To learn more about alternative therapies for diabetes treatment, contact the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Clearinghouse.
The other way to make such things accessible is to inundate attendees with advertising—which can undermine the concept by making us feel inadequate without this product or that, rather than by affirming our wholeness. Poolside, Hoess told me that he believes there can still be profit in a less consumerist direction, but that it’s necessary to “redefine capitalism to where it’s not just about pure profit, it’s also about social profit. If we can merge those things, I think business becomes a force for good.”
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.
Medications include a long (and boring) list of chemical names such as metformin, sulfonylureas, meglitinides, thiazolidinediones … you get the point. Each of these drugs works by either helping the body secrete more insulin, making tissues more sensitive to the hormone, or preventing the secretion of more sugar into the bloodstream. But, ultimately, the first line of defense against diabetes is direct insulin injection because of its high efficacy. And there are at least six main types of insulin, accompanied by another long list of difficult-to-pronounce suffixes, each with a slightly different effect. Along with treatment, diabetes requires constant monitoring for blood sugar levels, which include at-home blood tests, and routine medical check-ups. An insulin pump that monitors and injects insulin when needed is another option.
You should have no more than three of these “feeding times” per day. The reason limiting the number and duration of your meal times is so important has to do with staying out of the vicious cycle of increasing insulin resistance. To get smart on insulin resistance — the cause of both type 2 diabetes and obesity — read Dr. Jason Fung’s book, The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss, or watch his free lecture on YouTube.
In gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), sometimes called heartburn, stomach acid and partially undigested food move backward through the esophagus, escaping from the stomach and through the esophageal sphincter that normally prevents such backsliding. This can occur as a symptom of gastroparesis, says Hiroshi Mashimo, MD, PhD, a gastroenterologist at Harvard Medical School. “If the stomach doesn’t empty, it’s likely to reflux up,” he says. GERD may also result from diabetes-related nerve damage affecting the esophageal sphincter, Mashimo adds. One caution: Some diseases, such as a yeast infection in the esophagus, can masquerade as GERD, so don’t brush off symptoms. We can’t treat the gastroparesis or esophageal sphincter problems that contribute to GERD, but antacids and other medications can help to reduce or neutralize stomach acids (see “PPIs the Right Way,” below).
Nerve damage from diabetes is called diabetic neuropathy and is also caused by disease of small blood vessels. In essence, the blood flow to the nerves is limited, leaving the nerves without blood flow, and they get damaged or die as a result (a term known as ischemia). Symptoms of diabetic nerve damage include numbness, burning, and aching of the feet and lower extremities. When the nerve disease causes a complete loss of sensation in the feet, patients may not be aware of injuries to the feet, and fail to properly protect them. Shoes or other protection should be worn as much as possible. Seemingly minor skin injuries should be attended to promptly to avoid serious infections. Because of poor blood circulation, diabetic foot injuries may not heal. Sometimes, minor foot injuries can lead to serious infection, ulcers, and even gangrene, necessitating surgical amputation of toes, feet, and other infected parts.
Anal itching is the irritation of the skin at the exit of the rectum, known as the anus, accompanied by the desire to scratch. Causes include everything from irritating foods we eat, to certain diseases, and infections. Treatment options include medicine including, local anesthetics, for example, lidocaine (Xylocaine), pramoxine (Fleet Pain-Relief), and benzocaine (Lanacane Maximum Strength), vasoconstrictors, for example, phenylephrine 0.25% (Medicone Suppository, Preparation H, Rectocaine), protectants, for example, glycerin, kaolin, lanolin, mineral oil (Balneol), astringents, for example, witch hazel and calamine, antiseptics, for example, boric acid and phenol, aeratolytics, for example, resorcinol, analgesics, for example, camphor and juniper tar, and corticosteroids.