Advocacy and Research

Learning about Diabetes, Part II

by Riva Preil

If too much glucose builds up in the bloodstream, a very dangerous condition known as ketoacidosis may develop. The symptoms of this condition include breath that smells like acetone, fast and heavy Kussmaul breathing pattern, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, and possibly even altered states of consciousness (ex. coma). Glucose accumulation in the eye lens can also create vision difficulty due to altered lens shape. Diabetic dermadromes are a specific type of rash that may develop with DM. Furthermore, some individuals with DM develop peripheral neuropathy, dysfunction of the nerves that send messages to the extremities (especially the lower extremities). This may result in decreased sensation to the feet and decreased strength in the leg muscles.

As of 2012, an estimated 346 million people worldwide had Type 2 DM. It is the predominant form of DM, and it is associated with obesity. Insulin treatment became available in 1921, and this can help facilitate glucose absorption in Type 1 DM. However, pumping more insulin into an individual with Type 2 DM does not correct the issue, because their bodies no longer respond to insulin. Therefore, it is important for individuals with any type of DM, especially Type 2, to make lifestyle changes that will promote health and prevent further medical complications. For example, exercise has been shown to facilitate glucose transport into the cell (similar to insulin)! Appropriate management of the disease (which to date cannot be cured) includes maintaining healthy blood pressure, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy body weight, terminating smoking, and regular foot inspection to assure skin integrity. Furthermore, as a general rule, individuals with DM should not cut their own toenails due to the sensory changes they may experience and to prevent inadvertent injury.

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