HEALTH; Treating Type I Diabetes

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Treating Type I Diabetes

Kathy’s diabetes, Type I, is much more serious, though less common. It would seem that the solution to Type I is simple​—just replace the insulin. However, though insulin shots can keep a diabetic alive, they cannot account for the minute-to-minute fluctuation of insulin level that the body needs.

In order to minimize the complications of diabetes, such as blindness and kidney trouble, it is important to reduce the amount of sugar in the blood and in the urine. The need is to imitate the body’s normal and frequent fluctuations of insulin. But the question is just how to do that. The treatment is two-fold:

  1.  preventive maintenance and
  2.  insulin replacement.

With preventive maintenance, steps must be taken to minimize the daily fluctuations in the body’s need for insulin. A vital factor is the food that the person eats, for this is what the digestive system turns into blood sugar. The prudent person with Type I diabetes soon learns that he must have a well-regulated diet. This includes the more complex carbohydrates, as well as fats and proteins. This diet avoids sugar, honey, pastries, sugar-laden soft drinks, and similar sweets. These carbohydrates swiftly find their way into the bloodstream.

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This diet must be presented to the body at regular intervals. If the diabetic becomes careless, eating whatever appeals to him at any time, the levels of insulin and blood sugar quickly get out of balance. This leaves the person open to quick and severe illness or to the long-term complications of the disease.

Exercise lowers blood sugar. So the conscientious Type I diabetic includes exercise in the daily routine, being careful to have available a quick source of sugar (such as hard candy) in case the exercise drives the blood sugar too low. That can lead to diabetic shock. Emotions, too, can wreak havoc with the blood sugar and may be a cause of poor self-control regarding the diet. Infection and illness must be quickly treated, since they can cause blood-sugar levels to swing widely.

Yet, in spite of taking all these factors into account, the patient with Type I diabetes, like Kathy, may still have trouble stabilizing blood sugar. What then?

The second main aspect of treatment is the use of insulin injections. When insulin was developed over 60 years ago, it was lifesaving for many diabetics. And later development of one-a-day shots was initially perceived as a great advantage.

Though the daily injections are more convenient, there is some concern about possible long-term complications, such as hardening of the arteries. Thus, some are recommending more frequent injections of short-acting insulin to control the blood sugar more tightly during the course of the day. Several recent developments have made this not only possible but also practical.

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