Archive for January, 2013
Diabetes is one word, but it can be used to describe several diseases with some shared characteristics. Diabetes mellitus is a group of metabolic diseases which cause high blood sugar levels. Amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood is high either because the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or your body is unable to use the insulin being made.
There are three main types of diabetes:
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Gestational Diabetes
Having type 1 diabetes means that your pancreas produces very little or no insulin. Sugar (glucose) then builds up in the blood and can’t get into the cells to give you energy because insulin is missing. This type of diabetes is sometimes called juvenile diabetes because it often is first seen in children or young people.
Having type 2 diabetes means the pancreas may still be making some, but not enough insulin. The cells also may not respond to insulin the way they should. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. Nearly 90 percent of all people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. It usually strikes older adults, but can be seen in younger adults and some children.
Gestational diabetes affects women during pregnancy. In some women, the pregnancy hormones don’t allow insulin to do its job. Having high blood sugar during pregnancy can cause the baby to get too large, or cause other problems. Once the baby is born, gestational diabetes usually goes away. It does put the mother and baby at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes in the future.
Several research and advocacy groups focus on improving the lives of people living with diabetes. These resource organizations are a good start to understanding diabetes and putting steps in place to manage and control the condition.
You may have been told that you or someone you care for has diabetes. Now what?
First, diabetes is not one disease, but a group of conditions involving your pancreas and the hormone that it produces called insulin. The pancreas is a gland that is located deep in the abdomen between the stomach and the backbone and is surrounded by the liver, intestines and other organs. The pancreas makes hormones, including insulin, and pancreatic juices. The hormones enter the bloodstream, travel throughout the body and help the body use or store the energy that comes from food.
When your pancreas does not produce enough insulin and/or your body is unable to use all the insulin that is being made, too much glucose stays in your blood.
High blood glucose is also called high blood sugar. Over time, this high blood sugar can lead to organ damage and many other serious complications. Using a combination of lifestyle changes (diet, exercise) and treatment prescribed by your doctor (pills, insulin, etc.), gives you the control you need to keep blood sugar levels in a healthy range.
The American Diabetes Association has started the New Year with two notable changes in their Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes in the areas of high blood pressure management and frequency of blood sugar testing.
First, the ADA is now recommending diabetes patients have blood pressure tests at every routine visit to their healthcare providers. It also set a new target treatment goal for high blood pressure be revised from <130 mm Hg to <140 mm Hg.
Instead of a focus on “number of times to test, the ADA suggests that people with type 1 diabetes use “event-specific” guides. Event-specific times may call for much more testing. These events include before or after meal, when exercising or at bedtime, to name a few.
Type 1 diabetes puts a bull’s eye on vital organs with the pancreas taking one of the hardest assaults. A developing new technology is a pancreas proxy. The Artificial Pancreas stands poised to be a game-changer in the treatment and management of type 1 diabetes.
The pancreas is located in the abdomen. It converts food into fuel for the body’s cells. The pancreas has two main functions: helping in digestion and regulating blood sugar. Diabetes attacks the pancreas and compromises its ability to do this crucial job.
Living with type 1 diabetes is a particular challenge because of the frequent blood glucose monitoring needed to make constant insulin adjustments. This type of diabetes is often diagnosed in childhood making the need for feedback and fast reactions a task for supporters at home and school.
The Artificial Pancreas, which looks much like a smart phone, connects wirelessly to the user’s continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and insulin pump. The data from the CGM allows for an automated response from the insulin pump, lessening the burden that comes with monitoring.
Valuable tools in getting new medicines and devices approved are clinical trials and test subjects need to perfect devices and medications. Tom Brobson has been in Artificial Pancreas trial for six years and has been a public advocate for the technology and its impact on the lives of young and older people living with diabetes. (See video for Brobson’s first-hand account of his experiences with the Artificial Pancreas.
An artificial pancreas mimics the glucose-regulating function of a healthy pancreas. The device has a sensor that’s placed under the skin so it can measure blood sugar. Information from this continuous glucose monitor is sent to a receiver and an insulin pump delivers insulin in controlled amounts. A glucose meter calibrates the sensor. Sophisticated software checks the blood sugar in the body and automatically provides the correct dose of insulin needed at the right time.
The Artificial Pancreas promises to make life “a little closer to normal” for people living with type 1 diabetes and it will lessen the risks associated with missed monitoring times and mistakes made in insulin dosing.
For more the Artificial Pancreas Project:
“I want to be healthy, productive and reverse all my bad habits in the New Year.”
The New Year is in full swing and many people with diabetes have started the age-old task of climbing “Mt.Resolution.” There are so many good intentions and we often attempt to do it all and fail at it all in just a short few weeks.
Diabetes Health Sense, a product of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has devised a path to chip away at the mountain instead of trying to move it all at once. The “Just One Step” tool encourages the usual goals and resolutions, but it helps you create a game plan to get up the mountain one small step at a time.
If you want to lose 20 pounds this year, a reasonable first step might be to walk 15 minutes two times a day. This one step is not painful or terribly time-consuming and with small increases in time and intensity, those 20 pounds become a more viable goal.
Health goals and resolutions for people living with diabetes can make substantial impacts on blood sugar control and overall quality of life.
Some resolution/goals to consider:
- Losing/maintaining weight
- Improved A1C
- Endurance training
- Regular exercise routine
- Adding more fruit/vegetables to diet
- Consuming less fatty foods