Diabetes: Basic Information and Federal Funding Page: 2 of 6
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levels remain high (fasting plasma glucose of >126 mg/dl), a person is considered to have
diabetes. Symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, thirst, weight loss, and blurred
vision. Untreated chronic hyperglycemia is gradually fatal.4 Even when treated, it may
result in diabetic complications, such as damage to the kidneys, eyes, nerves, or blood
vessels. Diabetics are 2 to 6 times more likely to get heart disease than non-diabetics.
There are two types of diabetes. Type 1, or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus
(IDDM), develops when beta cells die off, and the pancreas does not produce insulin to
control blood glucose concentrations. Type 1 diabetes, sometimes called juvenile
diabetes, usually strikes children or young adults, and accounts for 7% to 10% of all
diabetic cases.5 Type 2, or non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM), develops
when the body's cells resist insulin made by the pancreas and glucose remains in the
blood stream. Type 2 diabetes usually develops later in life, and accounts for over 90%
of all diabetes cases. Millions of people are unaware they have Type 2 diabetes.
Current Treatment and Management
Diabetes is incurable; a diabetics's goal is to keep blood sugar levels near normal,
to avoid life-threatening high or low blood sugar incidents, and to stave off diabetic
complications. Optimally, a diabetes management plan is developed by patient and
doctor. The plan is periodically evaluated and altered as needed. Treating diabetes
requires a life-long commitment by the patient to regular medical care.
Some diabetics can manage their condition by monitoring their blood glucose levels
and balancing food intake against insulin and activity. Food raises blood sugar levels;
insulin and exercise help lower them. Very low blood sugar, called "hypoglycemia," robs
the brain of fuel, and can cause confusion, coma, and death if not detected and treated.
Keeping blood glucose levels in a "normal" range can help diabetics avoid complications.
Most patients are treated with insulin or with oral "hypoglycemic" agents.
Type 1 diabetes is treated with two or more daily insulin injections, exercise, and
strictly regulated diet. Patients may use disposable plastic syringes or pre-filled injection
pens to inject insulin into the body. Some utilize insulin pumps, mechanical devices
attached to or inserted into the body to deliver insulin more continuously. Type 2 diabetes
is treated with exercise, diet, blood sugar monitoring, and oral medication or injected
insulin. Over half of Type 2 diabetics do not require injected insulin. The likelihood that
a Type 2 diabetic will need injected insulin increases with the duration of the disease.
Patients with diabetes are at risk for diabetic complications. A major clinical trial,
the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) supported by the National
Institutes of Health's (NIH), National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney
' National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Diabetes Overview,
NIH Publication No. 94-3235, 1994.
s IDDM is the most common chronic disease in U.S. children affecting about one in every
6 National Diabetes Data Group, Diabetes in America, NIH Publication No. 95-1468, 1995,
2d ed., 528.
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Vogt, Donna U. Diabetes: Basic Information and Federal Funding, report, July 15, 1998; Washington D.C.. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc807815/m1/2/: accessed June 14, 2021), University of North Texas Libraries, UNT Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.