Diabetes Mellitus or more simply Diabetes is a collective term for a variety of metabolic disorders which lead to uncontrolled blood glucose levels. Diabetes is mainly a chronic disease caused by the pancreatic inability to produce sufficient insulin, or a resistance of the body to produced insulin. Diabetes can be subdivided into
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Pregnancy or Gestational Diabetes
Types and causes
- Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease affecting the pancreas. The patient is no longer able to produce insulin. As a result they are dependent for the rest of their life on injected insulin. Without the injected insulin the patient would not survive. Type 1 diabetes often develops suddenly and in childhood or adolescence. With the correct insulin therapy and well controlled blood glucose, a normal life is possible. The rate of Type 1 diabetes affected patients is increasing annually. The reasons are not yet fully understood, however it is suspected that environmental causes, in utero causes or also viral infections may play a role.
- Type 2 Diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. The patients do not react adequately to the body’s own produced insulin. Often Type 2 diabetics can control their disease with diet and medication, avoiding the need to inject insulin. In progressed cases however, an insulin therapy may become necessary, accompanied with an increased need to monitor blood glucose. The rate of Type 2 affected patients is increasing rapidly every year. This can be attributed to an ageing population as well as the economic developments’ effects on lifestyle, diet, lack of sport and eating culture.
- Gestational diabetes appears in pregnancy. It is caused by insufficient insulin production during the gestational period. Typically it disappears after the birth.
Treatment and late stage complications
In all forms of diabetes, the blood glucose must be controlled and held in normal ranges. Treatment consists of diet adjustments, medication and/or injecting insulin according to the preceding blood glucose value and accompanying food/carbohydrate intake.
Too high or too low blood glucose values (hyperglycaemia/ hypoglycaemia) can result in coma. Particularly insulin dependent diabetics are at risk of hypoglycaemic attacks. Hyperglycaemia over a long period of time leads to a series of diabetic late onset complications such as cardiovascular problems (heart attack), kidney disease and failure, blindness (diabetic retinopathy), nerve damage (neuropathy, pain, numbness), blood vessel damage with accompanied poor circulation, wound healing and loss of affected extremities due to gangrene and amputation (diabetic foot).
Blood glucose control is extremely important in diabetic therapy. The EyeSense products make monitoring easier, more comfortable and more reliable.
In 1993 the DCCT (Diabetes Control and Complications Trial) was published. This long term trial followed 1441 insulin dependent patients.
The results showed that an intensive therapy including blood glucose monitoring at least four times a day, reduced the rate of retinopathy by 76 percent, neuropathy by 60 percent and kidney disease by 39 to 54 percent. A follow up study in 2003 proved that the cardiovascular disease risk had reduced by 50 percent. Intensive blood glucose monitoring is the pillar of a successful type1 diabetic and insulin dependent type 2 diabetic therapies.
Many diabetics already use an insulin pump. The continually delivered small amounts of insulin lead to more stabile blood glucose compared to larger individual doses (e.g. before eating, basal insulin). Hyper and hypoglycaemia can be reduced using more accurate dosages. The aim is to achieve a “closed loop system”, an insulin pump regulated by a continuous monitoring device. In effect this could act as an artificial pancreas. With the continuous monitoring devices on the market to date, this has not yet been possible. With FiberSense technology, this potential is achievable.