Diabetes Can Be Serious
Diabetes can cause serious health complications including heart
disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations.
Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in the United
Symptoms of Diabetes
If you feel you may have diabetes, you must visit your doctor
as soon as possible fo a diagnosis. Individuals with diabetes
may have diabetes symptoms such as frequent urination, excessive
thirst, unexplained weight loss, extreme hunger, sudden vision
changes, tingling or numbness in hands or feet, feeling very
tired a lot of the time, very dry skin, sores that are slow
to heal, or more infections than usual. Nausea, vomiting, or
stomach pains may accompany some of these symptoms in the abrupt
onset of insulin-dependent diabetes, now called type 1 diabetes.
However, it is important to remember that individuals with
diabetes may exhibit some or even none of these symptoms.
The Different Types of Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes, which was previously called insulin-dependent
diabetes mellitus (IDDM) or juvenile-onset diabetes, may account
for 5% to 10% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes,
which was previously called non-insulin-dependent diabetes
mellitus (NIDDM) or adult-onset diabetes, may account for about
90% to 95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Gestational
diabetes is a type of diabetes that only pregnant women get.
If not treated, it can cause problems for mothers and babies.
Gestational diabetes develops in 2% to 5% of all pregnancies
but usually disappears when a pregnancy is over. Other specific
types of diabetes resulting from specific genetic syndromes,
surgery, drugs, malnutrition, infections, and other illnesses
may account for 1% to 2% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.
People with diabetes must take responsibility for their day-to-day
care, and keep blood glucose levels from going too low or too
People with diabetes should see a health care provider who will
monitor their diabetes control and help them learn to manage
their diabetes. In addition, people with diabetes may see endocrinologists,
who may specialize in diabetes care; ophthalmologists for eye
examinations; podiatrists for routine foot care; and dietitians
and diabetes educators who teach the skills needed for daily
Is there a cure for diabetes?
In response to the growing health burden of diabetes, the diabetes
community has three choices: prevent diabetes; cure diabetes;
and improve the quality of care of people with diabetes to
prevent devastating complications. All three approaches are
actively being pursued by the US Department of Health and Human
Both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are involved in prevention
activities. The NIH is involved in research to cure both type
1 and type 2 diabetes, especially type 1. CDC focuses most of
its programs on being sure that the proven science is put into
daily practice for people with diabetes. The basic idea is that
if all the important research and science are not applied meaningfully
in the daily lives of people with diabetes, then the research
is, in essence, wasted.
Several approaches to "cure" diabetes
are being pursued:
> Pancreas transplantation
> Islet cell transplantation (islet cells produce insulin)
> Artificial pancreas development
Genetic manipulation (fat or muscle cells that don’t normally
make insulin have a human insulin gene inserted — then
these "pseudo" islet cells are transplanted into
people with type 1 diabetes).
Each of these approaches still has a lot of challenges, such
as preventing immune rejection; finding an adequate number of
insulin cells; keeping cells alive; and others. But progress
is being made in all areas.