Diabetes is one of the most commonly encountered chronic illnesses found today. Worldwide, approximately 221 million people suffered with the disease in 2010. Diabetes affects 1.4 million Canadians and this number is expected to jump to 2.5 million Canadians by the year 2016. Diabetes poses a major problem as poor treatment can lead to serious consequences such as kidney failure, blindness, heart attack, stroke and amputations. Diabetes is ultimately a consequence of a lack of insulin (Type 1 Diabetes) or where the tissues in our bodies do not respond to insulin properly (Type 2 Diabetes).
Why do our bodies need insulin?
Insulin is secreted from specialized cells located in the Pancreas. It has a number of key roles which include lowering the amount of glucose in the blood, converting glucose to glycogen for storage in the liver, lowering triglycerides and cholesterol, as well as preventing muscle breakdown.
Ultimately the net effects of insulin include:
- decreased blood glucose
- decreased blood triglycerides and cholesterol
- decreased blood free fatty acids and ketones
- decreased blood amino acid
Thus insulin works in a very complex manner. Besides lowering blood sugar, it moderates the body’s breakdown of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, and inhibits glucose production by the liver. By “putting the brakes” on these processes, insulin keeps the body from becoming overloaded with breakdown products and/or glucose.
Symptoms of high blood sugar:
High blood sugar (also called hyperglycemia) can cause symptoms such as frequent urination, excessive thirst, fatigue, weakness, excessive hunger and blurred vision.
Type 1 Diabetes:
Because the body does not produce any insulin (absolute insulin deficiency) in Type 1 Diabetes, Treatment with insulin is the only option. Insulin therapy is individualized to meet the needs of each patient.
Type 2 Diabetes:
Abnormalities in the action of insulin due to insulin resistance (the body is unable to respond normally to insulin) or a deficiency in insulin secretion (the pancreas cannot secrete enough insulin to respond to high blood glucose) are the main causes of Type 2 Diabetes. Thus, there are a variety of treatment options available. These options may include:
- exercise and weight reduction
- adhering to a balanced diet
- oral medications
Treatment is tailored to the needs of each individual. Factors taken into consideration by health professionals when treating Type 2 Diabetes include:
- Degree of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar)
- Risk of the patient experiencing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Side effects from medications
- Other diseases present (i.e. high blood pressure, high cholesterol)
- Ability of the patient to adhere to a prescribed regimen
- Patient preference.
Please contact your Rx Ram Pharmacist, Rx Ram Diabetes Nurse Educator or Family Physician if you would like further information. We would be happy to work collaboratively with you and your Family Physician in meeting your Diabetes wellness needs.