Diabetes Demands a Triad of Treatments
Two Types of Diabetes continued...
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.
When they occur, Type II symptoms usually
include frequent urination, excessive thirst, fatigue, an increase in
infections, blurred vision, tingling in hands or feet, impotence in men, and
absence of menstrual periods in women.
Type II diabetes usually develops in people
over 40, and it often runs in families. For instance, Pattie LaBelle was
diagnosed with Type II diabetes at age 50, and her mother died of the
Type II diabetes is often linked to obesity
and inactivity and can often be controlled with diet and exercise alone. Type
II diabetics sometimes use insulin, but usually oral medications are prescribed
if diet and exercise alone do not control the disease.
Malfunction in Glucose Metabolism
In a normal body, carbohydrates (sugars and
starches) are broken down in the intestines to simple sugars (mostly glucose),
which then circulate in the blood, entering cells, where they are used to
produce energy. Diabetics respond inappropriately to carbohydrate metabolism,
and glucose can't enter the cells normally.
Insulin -- a hormone that is made in the
pancreas and released into the bloodstream and carried throughout the body --
enables the organs to take sugar from the blood and use it for energy. If body
cells become resistant to insulin's effect or if there isn't enough insulin,
sugar stays in the blood and accumulates, causing high blood sugar. At the same
time, cells starve because there's no insulin to help move sugar into the