There are two major types of diabetes, called type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes was also formerly called insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM), or juvenile-onset diabetes mellitus. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas undergoes an autoimmune attack by the body itself, and is rendered incapable of making insulin. Abnormal antibodies have been found in the majority of patients with type 1 diabetes. Antibodies are proteins in the blood that are part of the body's immune system. The patient with type 1 diabetes must rely on insulin medication for survival.
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).
Because both yeast and bacteria multiply more quickly when blood sugar levels are elevated, women with diabetes are overall at a higher risk of feminine health issues, such as bacterial infections, yeast infections, and vaginal thrush, especially when blood sugar isn't well controlled. And a lack of awareness about having prediabetes or diabetes can make managing blood sugar impossible.
Be active every day. Exercise is one of the best ways to keep your blood sugar under control. It also improves blood flow and keeps your heart healthy. The American Diabetes Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week for most adults with diabetes. Also, it suggests taking a break from sitting every 30 minutes to get a few quick bursts of activity. But talk with your doctor or physical therapist first. If you have decreased feeling in your legs, some types of exercise may be safer than others.
Efforts to cure or stop type 1 diabetes are still in the early stages, and these approaches will also not be suitable for people that have already lost their insulin-producing cells. A solution could be the creation of an “artificial pancreas” — a fully automated system that can measure glucose levels and inject the right amount of insulin into the bloodstream, just like a healthy pancreas would.
Be sure to choose a trusted physical therapist who understands neuropathy, diabetic or otherwise, to help you work through physical therapy methods in order to prevent further nerve damage. Proper attention to physical activity by an expert can prevent any further issues from occurring. Also keep in mind that physical therapy can soothe diabetic nerve pain, but not cure it.
The scene was otherworldly from the first whiff of essential oils on the premises, the palatial Palm Springs Convention Center and an adjacent resort hotel. Almost all of the attendees (seekers) were under 40 years old, and all looked well below it. Many could not be picked out of a lineup of Lululemon models. At least one actually was. There were celebrity speakers lined up to lend their expertise, including Russell Brand, the comedian turned spirit guide whose face is the poster for the event, and Alicia Silverstone, best known for her starring role in Clueless, who currently sells a line of vitamins out of an expressed concern that all other prenatal vitamins on the market can be harmful to fetuses.
As many doctors watch their diabetic patients slowly decline while implementing traditional methods of care, it’s only natural for them to pursue therapies that actually work to stall and even reverse many of the debilitating comorbidities associated with diabetes. In challenging economic times, it’s difficult for physicians to be able to afford specialized treatment protocols, but they’re constantly on the lookout for ways to provide additional services that have been proven effective.
Though not routinely used any longer, the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) is a gold standard for making the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. It is still commonly used for diagnosing gestational diabetes and in conditions of pre-diabetes, such as polycystic ovary syndrome. With an oral glucose tolerance test, the person fasts overnight (at least eight but not more than 16 hours). Then first, the fasting plasma glucose is tested. After this test, the person receives an oral dose (75 grams) of glucose. There are several methods employed by obstetricians to do this test, but the one described here is standard. Usually, the glucose is in a sweet-tasting liquid that the person drinks. Blood samples are taken at specific intervals to measure the blood glucose.
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When there is excess glucose present in the blood, as with type 2 diabetes, the kidneys react by flushing it out of the blood and into the urine. This results in more urine production and the need to urinate more frequently, as well as an increased risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs) in men and women. People with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to get a UTI as people without the disease, and the risk is higher in women than in men.
Diabetes doesn’t cause nearly as much of a stir in the media compared to HIV or cancer, but a few well-known names are associated with the disease – Halle Berry, Tom Hanks, and Paula Deen. And who doesn’t love that Food Network maven and American celebrity chef? Scandals aside, diabetes comes in two versions – Type I or Type II. In Type I, the pancreas decides to drop out of the physiological rat race and go on to discover its own metabolic purpose in life. As a result, the body generates little or no insulin, a hormone important in sugar metabolism. In Type II, unfortunate dietary choices, such as eating tons of sugar and carbohydrates, jam up the sugar absorption process, causing the body to become resistant to the insulin hormone. Type 2 makes up 90 percent of all cases of diabetes, which is going to be our focus here as we talk about when there will be a cure for diabetes. (Spoiler alert: Probably only after we ban the Big Gulp and the Big Mac.)
The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) was a clinical study conducted by the United States National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1993. Test subjects all had diabetes mellitus type 1 and were randomized to a tight glycemic arm and a control arm with the standard of care at the time; people were followed for an average of seven years, and people in the treatment had dramatically lower rates of diabetic complications. It was as a landmark study at the time, and significantly changed the management of all forms of diabetes.
The problem, according to gastroenterologist Hiroshi Mashimo, MD, PhD, is that 70 percent of PPI users take the medications incorrectly. “They aren’t getting proper instruction,” says Mashimo. “Most people equate PPIs as a stronger form of an antacid.” Antacids neutralize acid and are meant to be taken to quell symptoms as they occur. PPIs are part of a more long-term strategy. The right way to take them is in the morning, just before or with breakfast. Food “turns on” the body’s acid-making cells; the medication can then work to stop stomach acid production.
The progression of nephropathy in patients can be significantly slowed by controlling high blood pressure, and by aggressively treating high blood sugar levels. Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors) or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) used in treating high blood pressure may also benefit kidney disease in patients with diabetes.
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Anti-seizure drugs. Some medications used to treat seizure disorders (epilepsy) are also used to ease nerve pain. The American Diabetes Association recommends starting with pregabalin (Lyrica). Others that have been used to treat neuropathy are gabapentin (Gralise, Neurontin) and carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Tegretol). Side effects may include drowsiness, dizziness and swelling.
Dunn collected his presentations in a 1961 book, “High-Level Wellness,” but it would take another decade for his work to resonate with a committed group of followers. An early acolyte was John W. Travis, who picked up Dunn’s book in 1972 from a $2 clearance table at the bookstore of Johns Hopkins Medical School, where he was enrolled in a preventive-medicine residency program. Travis didn’t think much of Dunn’s buzzword at first. “I thought the word wellness was stupid, and it would never catch on,” he recently told me. But Travis was enamored with the way Dunn presented his ideas, and he put those ideas into action — and reluctantly embraced the word itself — when he opened the Wellness Resource Center in Mill Valley, Calif., in November 1975. The center promoted self-directed approaches to well-being as an alternative to the traditional illness-oriented care of physicians.
In animals, diabetes is most commonly encountered in dogs and cats. Middle-aged animals are most commonly affected. Female dogs are twice as likely to be affected as males, while according to some sources, male cats are also more prone than females. In both species, all breeds may be affected, but some small dog breeds are particularly likely to develop diabetes, such as Miniature Poodles.
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.
Chronic pain can reflect injury that hasn’t completely healed. More often, it is caused by nerves that have become oversensitive or by a brain that is misreading the signals it receives. If acute pain goes on too long, nerves and brain can tire of the constant signals and just decide the injury is permanent. That’s why it’s important to treat acute pain seriously. For example, if you injure your foot or your back and don’t treat it promptly — with adequate rest, other first-aid measures, and seeing a doctor if the pain is severe or persists — mild pain can become severe, and acute pain can become chronic.
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.
Per the WHO, people with fasting glucose levels from 6.1 to 6.9 mmol/l (110 to 125 mg/dl) are considered to have impaired fasting glucose. people with plasma glucose at or above 7.8 mmol/l (140 mg/dl), but not over 11.1 mmol/l (200 mg/dl), two hours after a 75 gram oral glucose load are considered to have impaired glucose tolerance. Of these two prediabetic states, the latter in particular is a major risk factor for progression to full-blown diabetes mellitus, as well as cardiovascular disease. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) since 2003 uses a slightly different range for impaired fasting glucose of 5.6 to 6.9 mmol/l (100 to 125 mg/dl).
Apart from these medications, treating diabetes effectively means taking a well-rounded approach: You’ll need to eat well, exercise, and manage stress, because all these factors can affect your blood sugar levels. Staying healthy with diabetes also requires caring for yourself — like protecting your feet, practicing oral hygiene, and tending to your mental health.
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.
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.