Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes, also known as “insulin-dependent” diabetes or “juvenile” diabetes, is a congenital condition where the pancreas doesn’t produce insulin. This effectively means the body has no ability to regulate blood sugar levels, which can lead to a great number of very serious health effects. Patients with type 1 diabetes must take replacement insulin to regulate their blood glucose.

In addition to insulin, type 1 diabetics can also take medications designed to alter the way the body metabolizes carbohydrates (Alpha-glucosidase inihibitors aka: “starch blockers”) or which slow the liver’s production of glucose (Biguanides). Other diabetic medications work to enhance or boost the body’s production of insulin or work to combat insulin resistance, and are only of help to those with type 2 diabetes.

Most type 1 diabetics take insulin delivered via injection, which can cause some problems with patient compliance, as injuections are certainly neither fun nor pleasant. However, insulin needles are available in various lengths, so most patients can administer their medication with the minimum needed discomfort. Other patients may use an insulin pump, which eliminates the need for injections but can cause problems if the patient does not maintain a strictly regular eating schedule.

In exciting news for diabetics in the US, inhalable insulin will soon be available (Exubera inhalable insulin has been approved by the FDA), reducing the need for painful or cumbersome delivery methods for some patients. Particularly for users with insulin pumps, inhalable insulin could be used to manage deviations in normal eating habits, to help prevent hyperglycemia when the pump cannot be adjusted.

Type 1 diabetics must be diligent in following the medication regimen set out by their doctors, because the complete lack of insulin in the body leaves type 1 patients particularly susceptible to side-effects and complications of diabetes, including potential blindness, and permanent nerve damage in the extremities, sometimes leading to amputation. But medica science continues to devise new treatment methods that make living with Type 1 diabetes much easier to manage.

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