Over the last 20 years, the people of St. Louis have become all to familiar with diabetes. Diabetes has become one of the most common disease process in the United States and the number of new cases continues to grow at staggering rates. In fact, recent estimates show that nearly 26% of the American population is currently suffering from the condition, making it the seventh leading cause of death. While the complications of diabetes range from eye problems to mental health issues, diabetic neuropathy has arisen as one of the most common and troublesome manifestations of the disease. Therefore, providing relief for people suffering from diabetic neuropathy has become a large priority. One of the most recent developments in treatment for this complication has been an aggressive approach to controlling blood glucose (sugar) levels, also known as enhanced glucose control. However, with any treatment there are often inherent side effects. This article has been designed by your doctors at ideal.Fit to provide you with information regarding diabetes and this new treatment process.
To understand the treatment, it is important to have a basic understanding of the disease process. Most likely when you hear about diabetes, they are referring to the type 2 variation. Type 2 diabetes currently accounts for nearly 95% of all reported cases of diabetes. The pathology behind type 2 diabetes is quite different than its counterpart and typically effects people who have reached adolescence or older. Type 2 diabetes is largely due to poor dietary habits resulting in the body being unable to process blood sugar due to an insulin resistance. As a result, the extra sugar is converted to fat, giving people with type 2 diabetes an overweight or obese appearance.
In contrast, Type 1 diabetes only accounts for approximately 5% of all the cases of diabetes reported. While people with type 2 diabetes have developed an insulin resistance, people suffering from type 1 diabetes fail to make insulin all together. As a result Type 1 diabetes is more common in people under the age of 25 and they typically maintain a thin or slim appearance.
Medical terminology can often be confusing and sound more complicated than it really is. For instance, the term diabetic neuropathy literally means nerve damage due to diabetes. With nerves controlling every function and system throughout our bodies, it’s easy to begin to see how extensive this disease process can become.
People who have suffered from diabetes for a long period of time typically have higher blood sugar levels than someone without the disease. Similar to how sugar is bad for your teeth, abnormally high blood sugar levels also cause damage to the blood vessels which give nourishment to your nerves. As the blood vessels and nerves are damaged, so are the structures that depend on them. For example, people suffering from diabetic neuropathy often have a long list of complications including; skin disorders, high blood pressure, stomach issues, kidney disease, vision problem, and mental health disorders. Therefore, to scientists and health care providers, controlling blood sugar levels has appeared to be an obvious solution.
While traditional treatments for diabetes sufferers has typically consisted of insulin injections and dietary modifications, a new treatment aimed at aggressively controlling glucose levels is emerging. As mentioned earlier, abnormally high blood sugar levels has appeared to be the leading candidate for the development of diabetic neuropathy. The only issue facing researchers and health care providers is maintaining the blood levels in an ideal range to avoid potentially serious complications.
When discussing an ideal range for blood sugar, most doctors look for the reading to be between 70-100 mg/dl. When the body is functioning naturally, blood glucose levels are controlled primarily by an intricate interaction between the hormones glucagon and insulin. As mentioned earlier, diabetics have one of two problems regarding the function of insulin. Developing ways to insure safe levels of glucose in the blood has become an issue.
Dr. Callaghan, a fundamental researcher for the studies surrounding this topic, has found that enhanced glucose control showed significant improvements with regards to diabetic neuropathy, especially for people suffering from Type 1 diabetes. However, he has also discovered that further research needs to be performed to determine safe blood glucose levels. The concern arises from the fact that as blood glucose travels outside of ideal levels, additional complications including; death, coma, behavioral abnormalities, muscle weakness, and weight gain arise.
While this new treatment avenue shows promise for individuals suffering from diabetic neuropathy shows promise, it is important that more research be performed to minimize the potential side effects. Our doctors at ideal.Fit in St. Louis are glad to teach you about some of the other less invasive and proven therapies available for managing your diabetes.