New Advances in Treating Diabetes
Diabetes is a metabolic disease where blood glucose (blood sugar) is too high because the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin (in diabetes type 2, no insulin is produced at all). Insulin gives instructions to glucose to tell it how to enter your cells, where it is utilized by your body for energy. If adequate insulin is not present, then the glucose simply stays in the bloodstream. In some cases there is enough insulin being produced but the body is unable to use it. Diabetes is treated with dietary modifications, daily insulin injections, medications to lower blood sugar or medications to control blood pressure and blood fat. How you are treated depends upon the type of diabetes you have and your medical history. It is important to treat diabetes, because the disease can have serious symptoms.
Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the immune system doesn't recognize its own insulin and attacks it, preventing the body from producing insulin at all. It is an auto-immune condition. Symptoms include:
- Excessive thirst and excessive urination
- Rapid weight loss
- Extreme fatigue
- Slow healing wounds
- Nausea and vomiting
- Deterioration of vision
- Recurrent thrush infections
- Persistent itching of the genitals or inner thighs
- For women, repeated vaginal infections.
People with type 2 diabetes often have no symptoms but when they do, they can have the same symptoms as with type 1.
If a patient doesn't manage their diabetes correctly, they are undiagnoszd or untreated or they aren't responding to medication, they might go into a diabetic coma. This can occur when low sugar levels reach a critical point and the body's survival mechanism kicks in to try and preserve life by breaking down fat stores. This releases toxic acid known as ketones (diabetic ketoacidosis) and may result in a loss of consciousness or death. Diabetic ketoacidosis can also affect people with type 2 diabetes but it is more common with type 1.
Another way in which a coma can occur is when blood sugar levels become so high that the blood becomes syrup-like in its consistency (Diabetic Hyperosmolar Syndrome). Thickened blood is dangerous and switches on a filtering process that draws moisture out. Life threatening dehydration and loss of consciousness ensues.
Too much insulin or not eating frequently enough or adhering to dietary guidelines can lower blood sugar to unsafe levels (hypoglycaemia) and this can result in a coma. Sometimes, diabetics don't get the early warning signs of hypoglycaemia such as hunger, perspiration and shaking, making it difficult to detect.
A New Era for Diabetics
Thankfully, medical advances have meant that the majority of people with diabetes can live fulfilling and normal lives. New treatments save lives and give futures back to many. According to Licensed Prescriptions, there have been many significant advances in medical sciences and new technologies that mean treating even the most serious of illnesses can be done effectively and with ease. Diabetics no longer have to dread a life of multiple injections and treatments that fail to control their diabetes properly. Now, there are medications that prevent sugar building up in the blood and medications to stop the immune system attacking insulin, meaning that one day those with auto-immune diabetes may be able to live a completely normal life, free from diabetes symptoms, dietary restrictions and other challenges that hamper the life of a diabetic. Here are just a few of the treatments that are available:
Drug Delivery without Multiple Injections
There is good news for diabetics who hate needles. Now a new timed release insulin means you only need one injection a day to get your required amount.
Once you've eaten you can now take a synthetic hormone to help lower your blood sugar.
A drug called Byetta, that is given by injection, can signal to the body to produce more insulin after eating.
This is another modern treatment option for those who hate needles as it is given by tablet. There is a compound in your body called GLP-1 that works to reduce blood glucose. When DPP-4 inhibitors are taken, they prevent the GLP-1 from breaking down, thus maintaining its ability to control blood sugar.
Sodium Glucose Co-Transporter 2 Inhibitors
These stop glucose from being absorbed by the kidneys. Instead, it is excreted through the urine and cannot build up in the blood.
If you'd rather kiss goodbye to painful shots altogether, there is now a form of insulin you can inhale instead!
Making Life Easier
In addition to medications, there are supplies available to make your life easier. For instance, if you inject insulin and you want to go on vacation, it can be a burden planning how you are going to transport it. After all, you can't strap your refrigerator to the roof of your car! Mini portable medical fridges are available so you can keep doing all the things you love while keeping your diabetes in check. Mini medical coolers can also be used if you want to stay at a relative's house or go to an important business meeting. Our mini cooler can be powered by household current or an auto adaptor and a digital readout will tell you the exact temperature of the cooler so that you know your medication is being stored safely. If you don't need a whole fridge and just want to go out without the worry of spoiling your medication, you could use a diabetic travel case with a temperature control element. Travel cases can store a smaller amount of insulin and some have storage pockets for syringes and alcohol swabs and they provide a space to keep your used needles if you are at work or out of the house.
Medication of the Future
This drug is in experimental stages but doctors are hopeful that one day it will become a viable treatment for patients. The drug was developed and sold as a skin disease drug and given to psoriasis sufferers before its withdrawal in 2011. During trials of the drug, it was found to attack the T cells of the immune system that go awry and attack insulin in auto-immune (type 1) diabetes so researchers realized it might be a potential treatment for diabetes. 33 patients received weekly injections over 24 weeks, with a 12 week break in between. A further 16 people were given placebo injections. Although the drug wasn't shown to affect the function of the pancreas, the group who had had the medication could preserve their insulin after eating, while the placebo group had a drop in their insulin level. With further testing, it may be available as another therapeutic option. Doctors believe that in the future, type 1 diabetes will no longer exist due to ever advancing medical science.