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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 infection.

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 sugar monitoring.

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 diet.

Symptoms of untreated insulin-dependent diabetes include:

  • continuous need to urinate
  • excessive thirst
  • increased appetite
  • weakness
  • tiredness
  • 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.

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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