Diabetes Types

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Insulin Is Not a Cure

Subcutaneous injections of insulin are the frontline treatment for type 1 diabetes. However, it's important to realize that insulin is not a cure for diabetes, nor can insulin treatment erase the potential for complications and increased risk for other autoimmune disorders that accompany the disease. The only current "cure" for the disease is the transplantation of a healthy, functioning pancreas or of insulin producing beta cells, and even that procedure is not without its own set of risks and potential problems . The finely tuned internal biological mechanisms that dispense just the right amount of insulin in response to blood glucose levels are absent in type 1 diabetes patients. While injected exogenous insulin can bring blood glucose levels down to a safe level, it is a far from perfect system. The type and amount of insulin and the timing and location of injections are just a few of the many factors that influence how well the treatment works. The dose of insulin must adequately cover the amount of carbohydrates that will be eaten and the corresponding rise in blood sugar levels. Too much insulin, and hypoglycemia results. Too little, and blood sugars rise too high. Precision is important, yet can be elusive.

E Fact

Children and adults diagnosed with type 1 diabetes sometimes experience a period of remission known as the "honeymoon period," which usually occurs shortly after diagnosis as blood glucose levels are brought under control. During a "honeymoon," the remaining islets are functioning sufficiently and the need for insulin injections is greatly reduced or sometimes even eliminated completely.

Vigilant attention to diet, a good understanding of how changes in carb intake affect insulin dose, and basic math skills are essential to proper treatment; yet, even with these, insulin can often be a crap shoot. Circumstances such as emotional stress, use of other medications, and even something as seemingly simple as the common cold can result in skyrocketing blood glucose levels and a potential diabetic emergency. For more on insulin treatment.