It can alter an individual’s lifestyle, but with treatments and medications available today, diabetes can be controlled and managed.
According to diabetesresearch.org, diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate in the United States. According to the CDC’s (Centers for Disease Control) National Diabetes Statistics Report for 2020 cases of diabetes have risen to an estimated 34.2 million. Every 30 seconds a new diabetes case is diagnosed, with almost 2 million Americans newly diagnosed each year.
There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Depending on the type an individual has, the treatment will vary drastically.
Type 1 diabetes, which is the rarer form of the disease, only affects roughly 5% of patients. According to the Mayo Clinic, “The pancreas makes little or no insulin. Insulin is a hormone the body uses to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy. Different factors, such as genetics and some viruses, may cause type 1 diabetes. Although type 1 diabetes usually appears during childhood or adolescence, it can develop in adults. Type 1 diabetes has no cure and prescribed treatment manages the amount of sugar in the blood using insulin, diet and lifestyle to prevent complications.”
Mayo states that, “Type 2 diabetes is usually diagnosed using the glycated hemoglobin A1C test and is an impairment in the way the body regulates and uses sugar (glucose) as a fuel. This long-term (chronic) condition results in too much sugar circulating in the bloodstream. Eventually, high blood sugar levels can lead to disorders of the circulatory, nervous and immune systems. In type 2 diabetes, there are primarily two interrelated problems at work. Your pancreas does not produce enough insulin — a hormone that regulates the movement of sugar into your cells — and cells respond poorly to insulin and take in less sugar.”
Treatment for type 1 diabetes includes taking insulin, counting carbs, fats and protein, regular monitoring of blood sugar, eating properly, along with regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. Anyone who has type 1 diabetes needs insulin therapy throughout their life.
Treatment for type 2 includes roughly the same treatment regimen of eating properly, regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight and possibly medication or insulin therapy depending on the AIC levels and blood panel.
Obviously with type 1, insulin therapy has to be consistent, or an individual may go into diabetic shock. A1C testing will also show how well the diabetes treatment plan is working better than daily blood sugar tests. A high A1C level may require a change in an individual’s insulin amount.
The ultimate goal is to keep blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible, which can delay or prevent complications.
Another possibility that is rarely discussed is that of a pancreas transplant. Mayo states, “Most pancreas transplants are done to treat type 1 diabetes. A pancreas transplant offers a potential cure for this condition. But it’s typically reserved for those with serious complications of diabetes because the side effects of a pancreas transplant can be significant.”
Another issue for diabetic patients in recent times is the increasing and sometime prohibitive costs of obtaining insulin with anecdotal accounts of some even rationing their insulin or not taking full doses.
In 2020, Governor Walz signed the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act to help Minnesotans afford their insulin through the Minnesota Insulin Net Safety Program. Diabetes Education Coordinator Kayla Wagner said that although she was aware of the program, she has not personally helped anyone with it.
“Neither myself, nor Vanessa, in Diabetes Education, have ever helped anyone with this process though in most situations a person is better off to apply for assistance directly through the manufacturer of the insulin product. We help patients with this process in Diabetes Education on a regular basis,” said Wagner.
Wagner added that the qualifications are nearly the same but they can use insulin pens, in which a prescription is typically delivered right to their residence and they often pay $0 for up to 90 day supply that is also valid for as much as a 12 month period.
“In situations where someone may not qualify for this or any government assistance (which we have also helped patients with before) then we may consider adjusting their treatment plan to a less expensive NPH insulin that is available over the counter for around $30 per vial (1000 units of insulin). This kind of change should always be discussed with your healthcare provider as this insulin does not have the same action time and requires adjustment compared to how a patient’s current insulin is used,” emphasized Wagner.
For a more diabetes education visit Lake Region Healthcare online at lrhc.org/services/diabetes-education.