Treating Type 1 Diabetes

Treating Type 1 Diabetes

Medical innovations in the treatment of type 1 diabetes have allowed those affected to minimize the effects of the disease while leading normal, healthy lives. The type 1 form of diabetes, which involves the body not producing enough insulin, means patients experience higher-than-normal blood sugar levels (known as hyperglycemia). So how does one go about treating type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, has been attributed to several causes, including family medical history and certain environmental factors. Although no known cure exists as of yet, there are several ways a patient may treat the disease, minimize its symptoms, and slow down its progress.

The treatment of type 1 diabetes may include special diets, regular exercise, and, most commonly, insulin supplementation. Treatment strategies vary from patient to patient and are carefully chosen by working with a physician.

Those diagnosed with type 1 diabetes normally begin treatment by supplementing insulin through injection. Shortly after diagnosis, a doctor works closely with the patient to monitor blood sugar levels and other variances to determine which kind of insulin is best suited for that patient’s specific case.

In addition to supplemental insulin, type 1 diabetics usually have special dietary restrictions, such as a low carbohydrate intake, and are encouraged to exercise regularly. Both diet and exercise work to minimize symptoms, as well as allowing the body to better regulate the insulin it receives.

Unhealthy lifestyle habits such as smoking and consuming alcohol should be stopped entirely. The patient should also meet with their doctor for regular follow-ups not only to check in with blood sugar levels and insulin replacement doses, but to screen for complications in blood vessels, nerves, and vital organs.

A family doctor is normally suitable for looking at the overall aspects of the type 1 diabetes. Though, depending on the stage and severity of the disease, specialists may be required. Complications in the extremities, for instance, would usually require a podiatrist. Similarly, ophthalmologists and ENT specialists may also be required to prevent or treat complications.  

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Type 1 Diabetes Explained

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes (also called juvenile diabetes) usually develops during childhood and early adulthood. Approximately 5% of all diabetics are affected by this form of the disease. Type 1 diabetes involves the body not producing insulin, which is the hormone responsible for converting glucose (sugar) into bodily energy. Insulin replacement, along with other forms of treatment, allow diabetics to lead healthy lives.

Since the disorder entails the pancreas not being able to produce insulin, those affected use special pens or syringes to inject insulin throughout the day, particularly during mealtimes. In addition to regular monitoring of blood glucose levels, and working with healthcare professionals to determine which form of insulin is most appropriate to the diabetic’s condition, nutrition is a key factor in minimizing symptoms. Different foods cause glucose levels to rise, and determining which foods are healthy to eat (and which are best to avoid) is crucial to managing the disease.

Stabilizing glucose levels can also be achieved through regular physical exercise.

Managing diabetes through insulin supplementation, as well as proper diet and exercise, can also offset the risk of developing complications. Type 1 can negatively impact vital organs, including the heart, eyes, and kidneys. Since complications from type 1 diabetes slowly develop over time, it is crucial that the disease is diagnosed and treated as early as possible.

Certain complications are potentially life-threatening or disabling. For instance, damage to the tiny blood vessel structures in the kidney’s filtering system as a result of hyperglycemia can cause kidney disease or failure, which may require transplantation or dialysis. Diabetes may also cause severe cardiovascular problems, including heart attack and stroke, resulting from high blood sugar levels destroying the capillaries necessary for the proper functioning of the heart.

High glucose levels may affect the body’s nerve structureespecially in the legs—potentially causing numbness, tingling, pain, permanent loss of feeling in certain limbs, and in more serious cases, amputation. Nerve damage may also entail gastrointestinal complications like vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.

Diabetes may also cause diabetic retinopathy, which involves damage to the blood vessels surrounding the retina, potentially leading to cataracts, glaucoma, and blindness. Hearing problems may also result.

In addition, diabetics are at a higher risk for bacterial and fungal infections. They are also at risk for osteoporosis due to lower-than-normal bone mineral density.

Diabetes can cause complications during pregnancy, resulting in a higher risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and birth defects, particularly when the disease is improperly managed.

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What is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a temporary form of diabetes mellitus that occurs only in females and only for the duration of a pregnancy. Both fluctuating hormones and weight gain experienced during pregnancy can lead to hyperglycemia (excessively high blood sugar levels). Pregnant women with gestational diabetes can experience mild symptoms or none at all. Common symptoms include excessive thirst and frequent urination, which are also byproducts of pregnancy in general. If gestational diabetes is detected via blood tests, mothers are encouraged to follow a gestational diabetes diet.

Risk factors associated with developing gestational diabetes include obesity, a family history of diabetes, having a pre-diabetic condition, and being over the age of 25.

Further, Native American, Latino, Asian and Pacific Islander, and African-American women are more at risk of developing gestational diabetes. Women who have had gestational diabetes in previous pregnancies are also at greater risk. Although this form of diabetes is temporary in nature, it does create a higher likelihood of developing adult-onset diabetes in the future.

In order to regulate blood sugar levels and maintain the health of both the baby and the mother, physicians recommend following a gestational diabetes diet, which entails smaller meals, frequent snacks at set intervals, and combining proteins with carbohydrates. Protein tends to prevent sudden rises in blood sugar levels caused by carbohydrates.

Those affected are encouraged to drink plenty of fluidsat least 8 glasses of water a day. Like all other forms of diabetes, difficulties maintaining water balance mean that drinking extra fluids can ensure proper function of the kidneys, which work to filter excess glucose.

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, other high-fiber foods, also play a crucial part in the gestational diabetes diet. Foods high in sugar should typically be avoided as they increase blood glucose levels. Consulting with a dietician or a nutritionist is encouraged as they can help to determine exactly which foods are best for the health of the baby.

Seeing as morning sickness is particularly common among women with gestational diabetes, breakfasts should comprise of quickly-digestible carbohydrates, such as lightly-salted crackers. Carbohydrate intake should be limited as carbs tend to increase blood sugar levels. Those not inclined to morning sickness may opt for high-protein options like eggs.

Without proper adherence to the gestational diabetes diet, the fetus is at risk for problems with development. For instance, highly acidic blood may result in ketoacidosis, which can lead to the death of the baby in some cases. Gestational diabetes also presents a higher likelihood of birth defects, including the underdevelopment of the baby’s extremities.

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The Symptoms of Diabetes

Symptoms of Diabetes

Diabetes, or the technical term diabetes mellitus, essentially involves the body’s inability to effectively process glucose (sugar). The two main forms of the disease are Type 1 and Type 2, and they affect both sexes, and all races and ethnicities, indiscriminately. So let’s take a look at the symptoms of diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes, typically developing in early childhood, results from the pancreas being unable to produce the insulin required to process blood sugar. Type 2 diabetics are normally able to produce insulin, however, the body cannot then effectively manage it. Both forms are chronic. Although there is no known cure, treatment strategies include insulin replacement, as well lifestyle and dietary modifications.

Medical research shows a high correlation between diabetics and their family’s medical histories. Other contributors include infection and environmental factors. Type 2 is particularly associated with unhealthy lifestyle choices and poor diets, affecting those with obesity at a very high rate.

Signs and treatment of diabetes mellitus vary according to its type, and it is, therefore, critical to consult with a physician if symptoms are experienced.

Many symptoms of diabetes can be difficult to differentiate from other illnesses and conditions. These include frequent urination, abnormally increased thirst, and unexplained weight fluctuation. Increased food or liquid intake is often accompanied by extreme fatigue, which usually requires an insulin injection. In some cases, not receiving supplemental insulin can result in the patient falling into a diabetic coma.

Blurred vision, due to increased pressure around the lenses of the eyes as well as abnormally slow healing rates of cuts and bruises are other possible symptoms.

While Type 1 diabetics generally experience symptoms throughout their lives, Type 2 sufferers generally experience these symptoms gradually, sometimes making it more difficult to notice.

Given that diagnosis and treatment vary according to the type of diabetesin conjunction with fact that treatment is often more effective the earlier the disease is diagnosedit is important to make your physician aware as soon as symptoms occur.

Once diabetes is diagnosed, a doctor monitors the patient closely in order to calibrate an effective treatment plan suited to the specific needs of the patient. Normally this will entail tests determining blood sugar levels and how those fluctuate, kidney function tests, and analysis of the condition of the skinespecially around the legs and feet.  

Type 1 diabetics are usually taught how to self-administer blood sugar tests in order to determine the amounts of insulin they will need to inject, particularly around mealtimes. The doctor will then schedule follow-up appointments to monitor kidney function and skin condition, as well as recommend beneficial lifestyle choices and dietary restrictions.

Type 2 diabetics undergo similar medical attention but seeing as Type 2 is often caused by behavioral factors, patients are immediately encouraged to cut out unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, commence weight loss exercises, and adopt a diabetes-appropriate diet. Physical exercise and diets low in carbohydrates can minimize the progress of the disease.

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What are the Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes?

Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes

As opposed to the chronic type 1 and type 2 forms of diabetes mellitus, gestational diabetes lasts only for the duration of pregnancy. Affecting only females, gestational diabetes occurs as a result of hormonal changes during pregnancy, which can affect the way the body either produces or processes insulin. Like type 1 and type 2 diabetes, however, gestational diabetes ultimately results in hyperglycemia, or excessively high blood sugar (glucose) levels. So what are the symptoms of gestational diabetes?

Although gestational diabetes can be largely asymptomatic, many experience similar symptoms to the other forms of diabetes mellitus. To ensure the health of a pregnant mother and her baby, it is important to watch for certain symptoms indicative of gestational diabetes.

First, glycosuria (glucose in urine) occurs when excess glucose is improperly filtered by the kidneys, and it ultimately appearing in the urine. Normally, the kidneys act to filter glucose out of the blood for reabsorption. Home test kits are available at pharmacies to test for glycosuria.

High blood sugar is another major symptom and can also be tested using simple-to-use home kits sold at the pharmacy. Typical fasting blood glucose levels range from 70-99, with after-meal levels not exceeding 120. Tests measuring above 200 should be reported to the physician.

Blurry vision can occur among pregnant women with gestational diabetes but is not as common. Blurriness is caused by swelling around the lenses of the eyes, but represent a very low risk for loss of vision as gestational diabetes is temporary in nature.

Frequent urination and excessive thirst are two very common symptoms of gestational diabetes, as well as pregnancy itself. It is therefore difficult to pinpoint whether these symptoms are the direct result of diabetes, or just the pregnancy overall, without consulting a doctor. Frequent urination results from blood glucose levels and excessive urination naturally leads to increased dehydration and thirst. These symptoms should be reported to your doctor, especially if it is becoming extremely difficult to satisfy thirst.

A less common symptom in gestational diabetics is a recurrent infection, particularly in the bladder. Excessive amounts of glucose have the potential to damage capillaries, which prevent the effectiveness of infection-fighting white blood cells. Bladder infections often cause painful urination.

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Diabetes Insipidus vs. Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes Insipidus vs. Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus are easily confused as being slight variations of the same disease. Although they share similar symptoms, such as increased thirst and frequent urination, they are totally separate in nature.

Originating from the Greek word meaning “a siphon,” diabetes refers etymologically to excessive urination — to expel water like a siphon. The difference between the mellitus and insipidus forms, however, has to do with the fact that one involves sugar processing malfunction, while the other involves an excessive dilution of urine.

Here is some basic information regarding both.

DIABETES MELLITUS

With diabetes mellitus, the body cannot effectively regulate blood sugar (glucose) levels. Glucose is essential to the body’s energy production, and is the broken down form of sugar that flows through the blood to energize other cells in the body. Insulin is the necessary component required to transfer glucose from the blood into cells. Insulin resistance or deficiencies inherent to diabetes mellitus cause abnormally high blood sugar levels.

The two major forms of diabetes mellitus are: type 1 and type 2.

Type 1 often develops in early childhood, involving the improper functioning of the insulin-producing pancreas, resulting in hyperglycemia (excessively high blood sugar levels).

Type 2, on the other hand, is most prevalent among those middle-aged and older, particularly in those who are overweight. While the pancreas is capable of producing insulin, it is either an insufficient amount to effectively process glucose, or the body itself is misusing the insulin. Both type 1 and type 2 result in hyperglycemia. In addition to insulin injections, adopting healthier lifestyles and maintaining diabetic-appropriate diets are natural ways of managing the disease.

Symptoms of diabetes mellitus include unusual weight loss/gain, dry mouth, frequent urination, blurry vision, fatigue, irritability, numbness or tingling in hands and feet, excessive thirst, and sharp pains in the extremities.

DIABETES INSIPIDUS

Diabetes insipidus essentially has to do with excessive dehydration and urination resulting from an electrolyte imbalance. No matter how much liquid a patient drinks, excessive urination, and thirst both persist because the kidneys over-dilute the urine with the water that the body requires.

There are four main types of diabetes insipidus: central diabetes insipidus, nephrogenic diabetes insipidus, gestational diabetes insipidus, and primary polydipsia.

Central diabetes insipidus involves a shortage of a chemical known as antidiuretic hormone (ADH), which regulates water reabsorption and filtration into either the body or urine. ADH is produced by the brain’s hypothalamus, and is then stored for potential release in the pituitary gland. Causes of central diabetes insipidus include certain illnesses, such as meningitis, surgical damage, tumors, and head trauma.

More common among males, nephrogenic diabetes insipidus results from the kidney’s inability to process ADH. ADH, in this case, is effectively produced, but the kidney malfunctioning is likely caused by a patient’s family medical history, concurrent kidney disorders, as well as certain medications such as lithium.

Gestational diabetes insipidus, whose duration is restricted to the length of a pregnancy, occurs when placenta destroys ADH.

Primary polydipsia, although not causing dehydration, primarily has to do with excessive thirst. Either due to an improper functioning of the thirst-regulating part of the brain or some kind of mental illness, primary polydipsia causes patients to always feel thirsty, often causing an overconsumption of liquids, which in turn, can cause kidney damage and ADH deficiencies.

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Treating Diabetes

Diabetes

Diabetes (or the technical term: diabetes mellitus) presents many symptoms, many of which are not immediately recognizable as part of the disease. Over 23 million are affected in the U.S., meaning that providing the public with information pertaining to its prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, is an important way to help minimize its overall effects. Many live with diabetes unwittingly.

Diabetes essentially involves the body’s inability to process blood sugar properly, with the vast majority of diabetic cases falling into two categories: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 typically develops in early childhood, representing roughly 10% of all cases; whereas type 2 makes up the majority of cases, and develops over time for several reasons, such as an unhealthy lifestyle or environmental factors. Type 1 diabetes entails the body’s immune system destroying the cells that produce insulin, meaning the body cannot effectively absorb glucose (sugar). Type 2 diabetes involves insulin resistance, in which the body does not use insulin in the right way as the pancreas progressively decreases its insulin production.

Symptoms can progress slowly without a diabetic’s awareness that they are getting sicker. Initial signs include unexplained weight loss, frequent urination, irritability, unusually increased appetite and thirst, and persistent dry-mouth. As diabetes progresses, symptoms may include the slow healing of minor lacerations and sores, numbness or tingling in the extremities, impotence, rapid weight gain, and a high rate of yeast infections (among females). Experiencing these symptoms warrants doctor consultation to effectively manage the disease before it progresses further.

Causes vary widely, including a family history of the disease, environmental factors, and poor diet. Particularly in the case of type 2 diabetes, poor lifestyle choices and being overweight are major contributors. Type 2 is quite common among the obese.  

Although there is no known cure as of yet, recent innovations in stem cell research show promise as to the future prevention of type 1 diabetes. Seeing as type 1 has to do with the immune system destroying cells that process blood sugar, replacement cells synthesized in a laboratory are being considered.

Disease management strategies are currently the best methods medical science offers. The earlier it is diagnosed, the better chance the effects of the disease can be minimized.

Many manage their disease with insulin injections. After a patient is first diagnosed, doctors monitor the patient closely to determine the optimal frequency and type of injections. There are both long-acting and short-acting insulins available depending on the needs of the patient. Injecting short-acting insulin, for instance, often accompanies meals.

Oral medications are also available to regulate blood sugar levels, including, Thiazolidinediones, Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, Biguanides, Sulfonylureas, Meglitinides and Dipeptidyl peptidase IV inhibitors. Patients are normally prescribed more than one medication concurrently.

Lifestyles changes and better dietary routines are effective and natural ways of managing the disease. Given that being overweight is a key contributor to the development of diabetes, regular exercise helps to both prevent and manage diabetic symptoms. Further, reducing and managing the consumption of carbohydrates helps to naturally control blood sugar levels.

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What Causes Diabetes

Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus represents a group of metabolic diseases involving the abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates. In addition to an impaired response or inability to produce the hormone insulin, high glucose levels result for a prolonged period of time.

Diabetes occurs in three primary forms: type 1, type 2, and gestational.

Type 1 diabetes, accounting for 10% of all U.S. diabetics, involves the body not being able to produce sufficient amounts of insulin. Considered an autoimmune disease, those with a family history of diabetes are more susceptible, with a higher rate occurring in females.

Type 2 diabetes entails cells not being able to effectively metabolize insulin secreted by the pancreas, resulting in the body producing an excess of insulin.

Gestational diabetes occurs in pregnant females as glucose levels rise to well-above normal. However, gestational diabetes often recedes shortly after childbirth.

Causes include an unhealthy lifestyle, old age, family medical history, certain chemicals and drugs, an excess of gluten in the diet, and high blood pressure.

There are several signs and symptoms. The three most prevalent tend to be abnormal hunger, frequent urination, and elevated thirst. Increased insulin production can stimulate an abnormally large appetite. Sometimes diabetic overeating, however, does not result in significant weight gain. Frequent urination results from the body attempting to evacuate very high levels of sugar, in turn, creating high levels of thirst. Increased fatigue, blurry vision, and irritability are other accompanying symptoms.

Treatment largely depends on its type and severity, as well as whether there are any concurrent illnesses. The first step following diagnosis is consulting with a doctor who specializes in diabetes to discuss the most appropriate treatment strategy.

Type 1 diabetes entails insulin injection on a regular basis based on blood sugar level variances throughout the day. Injection is necessary as insulin cannot be effectively metabolized via oral ingestion (given the structure of the disease). Patients often undergo stringent monitoring at the beginning of their treatment until the doctor determines exactly what kind of frequency and dosage are appropriate.

Type 2 diabetes does not always require treatment with medication, as doctors often prefer to first try weight loss exercises and healthy lifestyle improvements. After approximately six months of non-medication treatment, however, doctors typically prescribe type 2 patients with drugs to control glucose levels.

One of the most critical ways to minimize the symptoms is by adopting a healthy diet. Obesity, for instance, is commonly concurrent with diabetes, and it is very important for these patients to exercise regularly and maintain a diet low in saturated fat and sugar, as well as high in fiber.

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