Nine Curious Facts About Diabetes
It would seem that only today is not known to patients about diabetes – one of the most common diseases of our time? Mainly due to the efforts of the media. Nevertheless, endocrinologist Leonid Zaitsev tried to collect and present little-known and curious facts about this disease to MedPulse readers.
How diabetes was treated before
The first attempts to treat diabetes were made before our era. Ancient Greek and Roman physicians used for this massage, gymnastics, baths, aromatherapy and much more. In the 19th century, a low-carbohydrate meat diet was developed for patients with diabetes. After several decades, many more diets appeared, opium therapy and bloodletting became popular. However, diets in which the number of calories consumed were strictly limited proved to be the most effective. This was difficult for patients, however, it somewhat prolonged the life of patients with type 2 diabetes, in which not the production of insulin, but the sensitivity of cells to it decreases. With type 1 diabetes (partial or complete cessation of insulin production), things were much sadder: before the advent of insulin therapy, patients with this disease died soon after the onset of the first symptoms.
The first attempt to treat diabetes with insulin injections was made in 1922. But she was not entirely successful: the patient, 14-year-old Leonard Thompson, immediately developed adverse reactions. The drug had to be quickly developed and only 3 weeks later, the scientists managed to create a drug that effectively and without side effects lowered the glucose level from 28.9 to 6.7 mmol / L. After the start of insulin therapy, Thompson lived another 13 years and died of pneumonia, which, however, developed against the background of ketoacidosis, a complication of diabetes.
About “insulin addiction”
It is believed that once you start injecting insulin, a person will no longer be able to refuse it, therefore it is better not to use “this muck” at all, or at least postpone the first injection “on a rainy day.” However, in fact, this behavior is fraught with complications. In diabetes mellitus, insulin deficiency is always observed, it can be absolute (with type 1 diabetes) or relative (with type 2 diabetes). Medicine does not know any ways to make up for the absolute lack of insulin, in addition to regular injections. Therefore, if insulin is called a drug, then it will be fair to classify air and water into this category.
However, with type 2 diabetes mellitus, the beginning of insulin therapy can be postponed for a long time or even forever, following the recommendations of the attending physician: following a diet and taking sugar-lowering drugs. But if you can’t keep the glucose level within normal limits and the doctor advises you to start insulin therapy, you better agree, otherwise serious complications may develop prematurely: including diabetic foot syndrome and diabetic encephalopathy, characterized in particular by impaired memory and attention.
About new insulin administration methods
In the 1940s, the first extended-acting insulin appeared, which worked twice as much as the standard 6-8 hours. By our decade, the duration of action has grown to 26 hours, and at the moment the injection pattern in general looks like this: injections of “long” insulin 1-2 times a day and “short” – before each meal.
However, it is quite possible that this state of affairs will change in the near future. A group of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed a new insulin delivery method for type 1 diabetes patients — an injection gel with nanoparticles. According to scientists, it can eventually become the main treatment for diabetes and allow patients not only to live without frequent injections, but also without much monitoring. The nanoparticles contained in the gel react to the concentration of glucose in the body and automatically produce the right amount of insulin. So far, however, the gel has not yet reached the stage of clinical research.
In addition, the pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk recently announced that by 2020 insulin tablets will be on sale. But inhalation insulin company Pfizer could not gain popularity. Some other methods of insulin delivery (in particular, eye drops or the administration of insulin using a needleless injector through the pores) are also not betting now because the exact dose of insulin that enters the blood stream cannot be calculated in these cases.
About diabetes prevention
As a rule, the cause of type 1 diabetes is autoimmune aggression – the destruction of the cells that produce insulin by the immune system.