Updated September 2007-
Diabetes comes in two general forms: Type I and Type II. Type I diabetes usually presents itself during childhood when the body fails to produce insulin. Type II diabetes generally occurs in overweight middle aged men and women. While Type II diabetics continue to produce insulin, their bodies become immune to its effects.
Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that regulates the glucose or "blood sugar" level in the body. Blood sugar levels vary during the day, increasing immediately after meals and decreasing at night while the body is at rest. Insulin allows the sugars ingested during meals to enter cells that use the sugar to create energy.
Type I diabetics must inject themselves with insulin in order to allow the sugars entry into their cells. Type II diabetics already have enough insulin (as their pancreas continues to produce it) yet their bodies no longer react to it. In other words, Type II diabetics are desensitized to the hormone. Without insulin (Type I), or the proper reaction to it (Type II), the body cannot use the sugars in the blood
to produce energy. Nevertheless the body still needs energy and resorts to inappropriate sources such as fat cells to get it. In Type I diabetics this may lead to diabetic ketoacidosis, which can result in immediate coma
or death. Over the long term both diabetic types can suffer from many complications including:
- blood vessel damage that can lead to impotence
, reduced wound
healing abilities, failing vision
, and kidney problems
- nerve damage resulting in loss of feeling and numbness, digestive difficulties
, and blood pressure
- reduced white blood cells that lead to a greater susceptibility for infection
Type I diabetics use insulin replacement therapy to mimic the body's normal production of insulin. Replacement therapy is accomplished by either a conventional injection of insulin via a small needle or by the use of an insulin pump that is programmed to inject the prescribed amount at specific intervals throughout the day.
In 2007, the Institute for Safe
Medication Practices and the Division of Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest
University School of Medicine, conducted a longitudinal Adverse Events Reporting Study
of the U.S. FDA's most dangerous drugs
. The study found insulin to be one of the most dangerous drugs on the
market with some of the highest number of serious outcomes during treatment. Insulin was the second most dangerous drug in the study, according to the FDA reports, to
cause disability or other serious outcome. Over the eight years of the
dangerous drug study, insulin was found to have caused over 9,500 serious
health events in an 8-year period.
Type II diabetics typically attempt to control their condition through exercise and diet. Unfortunately, exercise and diet alone often fail to adequately address the Type II diabetic's inability to respond to insulin. As a result, many Type II diabetics take oral hypoglycemic drugs.
View sub-topics at right to learn more about some specific drugs used to treat diabetes and some of the drugs' more serious adverse side effects.
- Actos / Pioglitazone Hydrochloride
- Avandia Heart Problems
- Bicarbonate: Overview
- Prescription & Over-the-Counter Drugs: Overview
- Glucophage / Metformin
- Rezulin / Troglitazone
- Bradycardia / Slow Heartbeat: Overview