High Glucose Levels

"Type 1 and type 2 diabetes have many similarities, making it easy for some people to confuse them," says Lisa Fish, MD, an adult endocrinologist with Park Nicollet Clinic-St. Louis Park. Both diseases cause high blood sugar and can lead to long-term complications. Additionally, medications for treating the two diseases sometimes overlap.

Causes of diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is less common and affects fewer than 10 percent of all people with diabetes. People who have type 1 diabetes are born with a genetic tendency to develop the disease, read http://wecanwait4u.com/addtabz-reviews.html. It hasn't been fully determined what triggers the immune system to begin attacking insulin-producing cells, and there is no known way to prevent it. Type 2 diabetes is caused when the body cannot use insulin properly or when the body cannot make enough insulin to keep the blood glucose normal. Being overweight, age 45 or older and having a family history of diabetes are common type 2 diabetes risk factors.

Individualized treatments

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are managed very differently. People with type 1 diabetes are required to take insulin injections; however, people with type 2 diabetes may be able to control their disease with diet and exercise alone. Some patients also need oral medications or insulin, depending on individual needs.

"Sometimes it's incorrectly assumed people with type 2 diabetes convert to type 1 when they are required to take insulin, or that because someone takes insulin, he or she has type 1 diabetes," Dr. Fish explains. "Whether someone has type 1 or type 2 diabetes depends on the nature of the disease - not the treatment." The underlying goal in managing both types of diabetes is to keep blood glucose levels on target. "People with type 1 diabetes tend to have greater difficulty managing blood sugar levels," Dr. Fish says. "Their blood sugar levels include severe highs and lows - a condition referred as brittle diabetes."

Diabetes complications

Over time, high glucose levels from both types of diabetes can lead to complications. The most common complications include retinopathy, neuropathy and nephropathy - conditions that affect the eyes, nerves and kidneys, respectively.

Retinopathy affects the small blood vessels that nourish the retina, which is the light-sensitive lining on the back of the eye. When the retina does not receive an adequate blood supply, it produces a hormone that causes the eye to grow more blood vessels. However, these new blood vessels are often very thin and tend to break and bleed easily.

Nearly 95 percent of all people who have had diabetes for 15 to 20 years experience some degree of retinopathy. People can have retinopathy and not experience any symptoms. Vision loss occurs when a blood vessel breaks, leaking blood and fluid. "When retinopathy is detected in its early stages, it can usually be corrected with laser treatments," Dr. Fish says. "This is why I urge people with diabetes to see their eye doctors for retina exams every year."

Neuropathy is caused when high blood sugar levels damage nerves. "Nearly half of all diabetes patients develop neuropathy," Dr. Fish says. "This condition often takes 10 to 15 years to develop. Because type 2 diabetes may go undetected for many years, neuropathy can be the first sign that leads to a diabetes diagnosis."

The most common form of neuropathy is discomfort in the feet, sensations often described as "pins and needles." It may progress to numbness or burning sensations and be more noticeable at night. People with poorly controlled diabetes are more likely to develop neuropathy. This condition also may affect nerves in other parts of the body, such as the digestive system, sex organs and urinary tract. "Neuropathy is difficult to treat. Medications mainly treat the pain and allow people to sleep," says Dr. Fish. "They cannot cure or reverse existing nerve damage."

Nephropathy affects the kidneys' ability to remove waste products from the blood. One of the first signs of nephropathy is protein leaking into the urine. People with diabetes can reduce their chances of developing nephropathy by carefully managing blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Because nephropathy is treated most successfully when caught early, people with diabetes should have annual urine screenings.

About a third of all diabetes patients eventually develop kidney disease. If it reaches an end stage where the kidneys fail, treatment may involve dialysis or a kidney transplant. "A patient's quality and length of life are clearly better with a transplant than with dialysis. But our goal is to treat this condition early, before it progresses to that point," Dr. Fish says.

Additional concerns

"People with diabetes also have a much higher risk of heart disease - about five times greater than the general population," adds Dr. Fish. "Whether or not they develop complications from eye, nerve and kidney disease, most diabetes patients eventually succumb to heart attacks. In addition to exercise, good nutrition and not smoking, it is very important for people with diabetes to prevent heart disease by keeping cholesterol levels and blood pressure in control. Low-dose aspirin should be taken daily by patients age 40 or older," she adds.