Insulin therapy requires close monitoring and a great deal of patient education, as improper administration is quite dangerous. For example, when food intake is reduced, less insulin is required. A previously satisfactory dosing may be too much if less food is consumed causing a hypoglycemic reaction if not intelligently adjusted. Exercise decreases insulin requirements as exercise increases glucose uptake by body cells whose glucose uptake is controlled by insulin, and vice versa. In addition, there are several types of insulin with varying times of onset and duration of action.
In addition, a strong partnership between the patient and the primary healthcare provider – general practitioner or internist – is an essential tool in the successful management of diabetes. Often the primary care doctor makes the initial diagnosis of diabetes and provides the basic tools to get the patient started on a management program. Regular appointments with the primary care physician and a certified diabetes educator are some of the best things a patient can do in the early weeks after a diagnosis of diabetes. Upon the diagnosis of diabetes, the primary care physician, specialist, or endocrinologist will conduct a full physical and medical examination. A thorough assessment covers topics such as:
Most doctors, dietitians and diabetes specialists claim that type 2 diabetes is a chronic and progressive disease. The American Diabetes Association, for example, almost proudly proclaims this on its website. Once you get the diagnosis, it’s a life sentence. But, it’s actually a great big lie. Type 2 diabetes is almost always reversible and this is almost ridiculously easy to prove. This is great news for the more than 50% of American adults who have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes or diabetes. Recognizing this truth is the crucial first step in reversing your diabetes or pre-diabetes. Actually, it something that most people already instinctively recognized to be true.
One of my patients, aged 58, had an initial hemoglobin A1c of 7.2%. She was taking oral hypoglycemic agents, statins, and proton pump inhibitors—the basic treatment for every diabetes diagnosis. The patient was 28 lbs overweight and worked long hours. She didn’t exercise, mostly ate a processed food diet, and was sleep deprived. The patient had a family history of diabetes, and ultimately her lifestyle expressed her genetic tendencies.
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Because the initial symptoms (fatigue, weakness, frequent urination) are usually mild, about 30 percent of all people with diabetes do not realize that they have the disease. And that can have tragic consequences, because with early diagnosis and treatment, the chances of living a long and productive life are higher than if the disease creeps along until irreversible damage occurs.
Effect of an 8-week very-low-calorie diet in type 2 diabetes on arginine-induced maximal insulin secretion (A), first phase insulin response to a 2.8 mmol/L increase in plasma glucose (B), and pancreas triacylglycerol (TG) content (C). For comparison, data for a matched nondiabetic control group are shown as ○. Replotted with permission from Lim et al. (21).
Obesity is a disease, not something created by lack of character. It is a hormonal disease. There are many hormones involved, and one of the main ones is a hormone called insulin. The vast majority of obese individuals are resistant to insulin and that causes a lot of trouble. So, what does being insulin-resistant mean? Insulin resistance is essentially ‘pre-pre-type 2 diabetes.’ Insulin’s job is to drive glucose or blood sugar into cells where it can be used. In a nutshell, when someone has insulin resistance, they are having trouble getting glucose where it needs to go, into the cells. It can’t all hang out in the blood after we eat, or we would all have a diabetic crisis after every meal. When there is resistance to insulin, our bodies will just make more of it. The insulin levels rise and rise and for a while, years usually, this will keep up and blood sugar will stay normal. However, eventually it can’t keep up, and even elevate insulin levels are not enough to keep blood sugar normal, and blood sugar rises. And that is diabetes.
If the T2DM has been recently diagnosed, there is a greater likelihood of being able to reverse the disease. Doing this requires losing approximately 5-10% of current body weight, balancing carbs and protein and engaging in daily physical exercise. A diabetes educator (C.D.E.) is the expert who can help put together a plan for realistic and permanent lifestyle changes.
Regular blood testing, especially in type 1 diabetics, is helpful to keep adequate control of glucose levels and to reduce the chance of long term side effects of the disease. There are many (at least 20+) different types of blood monitoring devices available on the market today; not every meter suits all patients and it is a specific matter of choice for the patient, in consultation with a physician or other experienced professional, to find a meter that they personally find comfortable to use. The principle of the devices is virtually the same: a small blood sample is collected and measured. In one type of meter, the electrochemical, a small blood sample is produced by the patient using a lancet (a sterile pointed needle). The blood droplet is usually collected at the bottom of a test strip, while the other end is inserted in the glucose meter. This test strip contains various chemicals so that when the blood is applied, a small electrical charge is created between two contacts. This charge will vary depending on the glucose levels within the blood. In older glucose meters, the drop of blood is placed on top of a strip. A chemical reaction occurs and the strip changes color. The meter then measures the color of the strip optically.
He emphasizes lifestyle changes and weight loss as a first step. "We give them a 3-month trial of diet and lifestyle [modification] before starting medications," he says. "A lot of times, for many patients newly diagnosed, we will see the sugars melt back into the normal range" after the weight loss and other changes. He has seen it happen after a weight loss of 7% to 10% of their starting weight.
Many manufacturers offer pen delivery systems. Such systems resemble the ink cartridge in a fountain pen. A small, pen-sized device holds an insulin cartridge (usually containing 300 units). Cartridges are available for the most widely used insulin formulations. The amount of insulin to be injected is dialed in, by turning the bottom of the pen until the required number of units is seen in the dose-viewing window. The tip of the pen consists of a needle that is replaced with each injection. A release mechanism allows the needle to penetrate just under the skin and deliver the required amount of insulin.