Diabetes Demands a Triad of Treatments
Two Types of Diabetes
There are two main types of diabetes, Type I
and Type II. Insulin-dependent, or Type I, diabetes affects about 5
percent of all diabetics. It's also known as juvenile diabetes because it often
occurs in people under 35 and commonly appears in children or adolescents. For
example, Mary Tyler Moore, a Type I diabetic who is international chairman of
the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, was diagnosed in her late 20s, following a
miscarriage. A routine test found her blood sugar level was 750 milligrams per
deciliter (mg/dl), as compared with the normal level, 70 mg/dl to 105 mg/dl.
And Collie has been diabetic since age 17.
In Type I diabetes, the insulin-secreting
cells of the pancreas are destroyed, with insulin production almost ceasing.
Experts believe that this may be the result of an immune response after a viral
Type I diabetics must inject insulin
regularly under the skin. Insulin cannot be taken by mouth because it cannot be
absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract into the bloodstream. Doses range from
one or two up to five injections a day, adjusted in response to regular blood
Insulin regulates both blood sugar and the
speed at which sugar moves into cells. Because food intake affects the cells'
need for insulin and insulin's ability to lower blood sugar, the diet is the
cornerstone of diabetes management: Insulin is not a replacement for proper
Symptoms of untreated insulin-dependent
- continuous need to urinate
- excessive thirst
- increased appetite
- urinary tract infections
- recurrent skin infections, such as boils
- vaginal yeast infections in women
- blurred vision
- tingling or numbness in hands or feet.
If Type I diabetes goes untreated, a
life-threatening condition called ketoacidosis can quickly develop. If this
condition is not treated, coma and death will follow.
Type II, or non-insulin-dependent,
diabetes is the most common type. It results when the body produces
insufficient insulin to meet the body's needs, or when the cells of the body
have become resistant to insulin's effect. While all Type I diabetics develop
symptoms, only a third of those who have Type II diabetes develop symptoms.
Many people suffer from a mild form of the disease and are unaware of it. Often
it's diagnosed only after complications are detected.