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Diabetes - Type 1 PDF Print E-mail

Introduction | Anatomy | Causes | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment | Prevention | Am I at Risk | Complications |  Advancements

Introduction

Diabetes is a disease that affects how the body uses glucose, a sugar that is a source of fuel.  Normally, insulin, a hormone, helps glucose enter the body cells where it is used for energy. 

People with diabetes do not produce insulin, do not produce enough insulin, or the insulin does not work like it should.  As a result, glucose does not get into the body cells.  Too much sugar in the blood can make people ill and result in medical complications. 

There are different types of diabetes.  People with Type 1 Diabetes do not produce insulin.  There is no cure for Type 1 Diabetes, and it cannot be prevented.  It is a lifelong condition.  Type 1 Diabetes must be treated with insulin. 

Type 1 Diabetes usually appears before the age of 20 and was formerly called Juvenile Diabetes or Insulin Dependent Diabetes.  People with diabetes need to diligently manage their disease to remain healthy and reduce the risk of medical complications.  Many people with Type 1 Diabetes lead long healthy lives.  Prevention, technology, and research have greatly improved the management of this condition.

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Anatomy

Your body is composed of millions of cells.  The cells need energy to function.  One way the cells receive energy is from the food that you eat.  Whenever you eat or drink, some of the food is broken down into glucose.  Glucose is a sugar that is released into your blood.  It is a major source of energy for your body cells.  Glucose is transported from your bloodstream and into your cells with the help of insulin.
 
Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the beta cells in your pancreas.  Your pancreas is a gland located near your stomach that produces chemicals for food digestion.  Insulin regulates the amount of glucose in your blood with a continual process.  When you eat, the amount of glucose in your bloodstream rises.  In response to the elevated blood glucose level, your beta cells produce insulin.  The insulin moves the glucose out of the bloodstream and into your cells.  In turn, a lower level of glucose is left in the blood stream.  To prevent your blood glucose level from getting too low, your body signals you to eat.  This starts the process again so that your body cells continually receive the energy that they need.

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Causes

The exact cause of Type 1 Diabetes is not clear.  Type 1 Diabetes results when the beta cells are destroyed by the immune system and fail to produce insulin.  Researchers do not know why this happens.  They suspect it may be an inherited genetic condition or triggered by a toxin or virus.

Without insulin, glucose remains in the blood and cannot get into the body cells for energy.  The glucose accumulates and makes the blood sugar levels high. 

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Symptoms

The symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes tend to develop rapidly.  A common symptom is frequent urination.  This happens as your body tries to remove the excess blood sugar by passing it out of your body in urine.  In turn, you feel extremely thirsty and your mouth may feel dry.  Because your body is not getting energy from blood sugar, it signals you to eat a lot.  However, even though you are eating and drinking enough, you may actually lose weight.  This is because your body starts to use fat and muscle for fuel when it cannot access the blood sugar.  You may feel tired and weak because your body cells cannot use glucose for energy.  
 
Additionally, you may experience abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.  You may get frequent skin, urinary tract, or vaginal infections.  Type 1 Diabetes can also cause blurred vision and headaches.  The way you breathe may change to become heavier or labored. 
 
Treatment for Type 1 Diabetes can prevent symptoms from happening.  However, even with treatment, some problems associated with Type 1 Diabetes may occur.  These conditions include ketoacidosis, hyperglycemia, and hypoglycemia.  
 
Ketoacidosis is a serious condition—it can lead to diabetic coma or death.  Ketones are acids that accumulate in the blood when your body breaks down fats.  Your body releases ketones through urine.  Ketones appear in urine when the body does not have enough insulin.  Ketoacidosis occurs when all of the ketones cannot be released through urine and the amount of ketones remaining in the blood becomes high enough to poison the body.  Ketoacidosis usually develops slowly, but when vomiting occurs, the condition can develop in just a few hours.  
 
The first symptoms of ketoacidosis include thirst, dry mouth, frequent urination, high blood glucose levels, and high levels of ketones in the urine.  These symptoms are followed by:  dry or flushed skin; continual tiredness; nausea, abdominal pain, or vomiting; difficulty breathing; impaired attention span or confusion; and fruity smelling breath.  If you have any of the symptoms contact your doctor immediately; call emergency services, usually 911; or go to the nearest emergency room of a hospital.  Treatment for ketoacidosis usually involves a hospital stay.  
 
You can help prevent ketoacidosis by monitoring yourself for warning signs and checking your urine and blood regularly.  Follow your doctor’s instructions if you detect high levels of ketones.  If you have high levels of ketones, do not exercise.  Exercise increases the levels of ketones.  
 
Hyperglycemia, the term for high blood glucose, happens occasionally to people with diabetes.  Untreated hyperglycemia can cause ketoacidosis, and overtime, lead to medical complications.  Hyperglycemia can occur for many reasons.  People with Type 1 Diabetes may experience it if they did not administer enough insulin, ate more than planned, exercised less than planned, or were sick or stressed. 
 
The warning signs and symptoms of hyperglycemia include high blood glucose levels, high levels of sugar in the urine, frequent urination, and increased thirst.  You should follow your doctor’s instructions for treating hyperglycemia as soon as you detect high blood sugar levels or ketones in your urine—this is very important.  If you fail to do so, ketoacidosis could occur.  If you have ketones in your urine, do not exercise.  Exercising will only make the situation worse. 
 
Hypoglycemia, also called low blood sugar or insulin reaction, is not always preventable.  Hypoglycemia can occur even if you do everything that you can to manage your diabetes.  Symptoms of hypoglycemia include shakiness, dizziness, sweating, hunger, headache, pale colored skin, sudden moodiness, clumsiness, seizure, poor attention span, confusion, and tingling sensations around your mouth.  
 
Check your blood if you suspect that your blood glucose level is low.  You should treat hypoglycemia immediately.  The quickest way to treat hypoglycemia is to raise your blood sugar level with some form of sugar—glucose tablets, fruit juice, or hard candy.  Ask your doctor for a list of appropriate foods.  Once you have tested checked your blood glucose level and treated your hypoglycemia, repeat the process again until your signs and symptoms have cleared.  
 
It is important to treat hypoglycemia immediately or you could pass out.  If you pass out, you need immediate treatment.  You should receive an injection of glucagon.  Glucagon is a medication that raises blood sugar.  You should tell those around you how and when to use it.  If glucagon is not available, you need emergency medical assistance.  Someone should take you to the emergency room of a hospital or call emergency medical services, usually 911.  If you pass out from hypoglycemia, you should not inject insulin or consume food or fluids.
 
Hyperosmolar hyperglycemic nonketotic syndrome (HHNS) is a serious condition that most frequently occurs in older persons and those with Type 2 Diabetes.  However, it can also occur in individuals with Type 1 Diabetes.  An illness or infection usually brings on HHNS.  HHNS can cause severe dehydration and lead to seizures, coma, and death.
 
With HHNS, dehydration occurs as your body tries to remove excess blood sugar by passing it out of your body in urine.  The rate of urination may be frequent at first, but then decrease.  You may become very thirsty.  Your urine will become very dark.  It is important to drink plenty of liquids to remain hydrated.  Warning signs and symptoms of HHNS include a blood sugar level of over 600 mg/dl; a dry parched mouth; extreme thirst that may gradually disappear; warm dry skin that does not sweat; a high fever, over 101° Fahrenheit; sleepiness or confusion; vision loss; auditory or visual hallucinations, seeing or hearing things that are not there; and weakness on one side of the body.  Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms. 

You can avoid HHNS by checking your blood glucose levels regularly.  You need to check your blood glucose levels more often when you are sick or have an infection.  You should work with your doctor and health care professionals to develop a monitoring plan for when you are sick.

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Diagnosis

There is no test to screen for Type 1 Diabetes.  It is important that you tell your doctor the symptoms you experience.  If you are the parent of a child, keep track of your child’s symptoms and report them to your doctor.  Your doctor can diagnose Type 1 Diabetes by testing your urine and blood.  
 
Your doctor will test your urine for glucose and ketones.  Ketones are acids that accumulate in the blood and appear in urine when the body does not have enough insulin.  The tests are simple to conduct.  Test strips are simply placed in your urine sample. Your doctor will read the results after a short period of time.
 
Your doctor can also determine if you have diabetes by conducting blood glucose tests.  The Fasting Plasma Glucose Test (FPG) and the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) are commonly used.  The FPG measures blood glucose levels after you have fasted or not eaten for a period of time.  The OGTT test measures blood glucose levels after fasting and again a few hours after you drink a high-glucose beverage.  The FPG and the OGTT test indicate your blood glucose level for one time on a given day.  
 
Because blood glucose levels fluctuate from day to day, your doctor can also test how your blood glucose levels have been over a period of three months.  To do so, your doctor will use an A1C test, also called a glycated hemoglobin or HbA1c test.  The A1C test measures how much extra glucose has glycated or attached to your red blood cells over the last 120 days, the lifespan of a red blood cell. 

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Treatment

There is no cure for diabetes but it can be treated and managed.  Type 1 Diabetes is treated with insulin and must be treated with insulin.  Treatment can help stop the symptoms from happening.  Treatment may also prevent or delay the development of medical complications associated with diabetes.  Your doctor and health care team will teach you how to keep your blood glucose levels as near to normal as possible with medication, nutrition, and exercise.  
 
Purchasing diabetes care supplies can be confusing.  You should select the products that you are most comfortable with and that you will use.  The American Diabetes Association has an extensive list of diabetes care supplies in their Resource Guide.  The Resource Guide provides detailed information that allows you to compare the features of various products.  You should also talk to your health care professionals for product advice, demonstration, and trial.
 
You need to carefully follow your doctor’s instructions for monitoring your blood glucose levels.  You will need to check your blood glucose levels throughout the day.  To test your blood glucose level, you will prick your finger with a sharp needle or lancet.  Some newer monitoring devices allow you to prick your forearm or other sites on your body, which may be less painful.  You will place a small amount of blood on a test strip.  A glucose monitor will display your results.  
 
Blood glucose meters have advanced over the past 20 years.  They have become easier to use and there are many types to choose from.  Some meters are easier to use than others.  Most meters provide results in less than a minute.  Some of the newer meters display results in just five seconds.  “Talking” meters are helpful for people with visual impairments.  The talking meters provide verbal instructions and results.  Some of the units are available in Spanish and other languages.
 
You should take your time when deciding on a glucose meter.  You should select the one that you are the most comfortable with because you will be using it regularly.  When purchasing a blood glucose meter, you should check if your insurance company covers the meter and the care supplies, such as the test strips.  You should compare prices for items not covered by insurance.  
 
Your doctor will help you establish a schedule for checking your blood glucose.  Make sure that you write down the time that you tested your blood and the result.  Bring your logbook to each of your doctor appointments.  It is recommended that you keep a written log even if your glucose meter can store your results.  
 
Data management systems are an alternative for storing the results of your glucose monitoring.  Data management systems are a convenience, but not a requirement.  You may keep your own records in a written log.  Some of the newer blood glucose meters have a built in data management system that can store the results of 500 blood glucose checks.  Data management systems vary.  They can record such variables as when you checked your blood glucose, the type and dose of insulin used, your meals and exercise.
 
There are several things to consider if purchasing a data management system.  You should talk to your doctor to see if your unit is compatible with the doctor’s computer.  You should also ask your doctor what type of records he or she would like the data management system to track.  As always, try the equipment before you purchase it.  Data management systems can be expensive.
 
Depending on the results of your blood glucose test, you may need to inject yourself with insulin.  The insulin will help lower your blood glucose level.  Your doctor will let you know how much insulin to use.  It will depend on your weight, what you eat, and how active you are.  Most people with Type 1 Diabetes need insulin injections two to four times a day. 
 
There are different types of insulin that differ in onset, peak time, and duration.  Onset refers to how long it takes the insulin to reach the bloodstream and begin lowering the blood glucose level.  The peak time indicates when the insulin is at its maximum strength.  Insulin duration describes the length of time that the insulin works to lower blood glucose levels. 
 
Some types of insulin may be used alone or with another type of insulin to be as effective as possible.  Additionally, there are new types of medications that enhance the way that insulin works.  Medications may require mixing or they may be purchased in a convenient premixed pen.  Ask your doctor about which medications are right for you.
 
Before meal rapid-acting insulins should be injected 15 minutes before a meal.  These types of insulins work about 15 minutes after they are injected, peak in an hour, and continue to work for 2 to 4 hours.  Before meal rapid-acting insulins leave the bloodstream quickly and reduce the chance of hypoglycemia after meals.  After meal rapid-acting insulins are well-suited for children because it can be difficult to predict how many calories a child will eat prior to a meal.  After meal rapid-acting insulins are also useful for people with delayed stomach emptying.
 
Short or regular-acting insulins reach the bloodstream within 30 minutes after they are injected, peak in 2 to 3 hours, and continue to work for 3 to 6 hours.  Short-acting insulin is often used with another type of insulin, intermediate-acting insulin.  Intermediate-acting insulins reach the bloodstream 2 to 4 hours after they are injected, peak 4 to 12 hours later, and continue to work for about 12 to 18 hours.  
 
Insulin can be administered in a variety of ways that are easy and relatively painless.  Insulin delivery methods include small needles, a pen, or a pump.  Needles are smaller than ever before and have special coatings that make injecting easy and nearly pain-free.  
 
An alternative to a syringe and needle is an insulin pen.  Insulin pens are convenient for active people or those with visual or coordination problems.  The pens contain accurate pre-measured doses of insulin.  The insulin is easy to deliver.  With the push of a button, a spring-loaded device quickly inserts the needle into your skin and delivers the correct does of insulin. 
 
An insulin pump is another type of insulin delivery method.  An insulin pump delivers insulin in a continuous steady dose and as a surge dose, at your direction, such as at mealtime.  The insulin is delivered in doses similar to the body’s normal release of insulin.  Some people find that this method helps to control their diabetes better. 
 
An infuser may be used to reduce the number of daily injections.  An infuser or a portal is a catheter device that is placed into your skin.  Insulin injections are given into the infuser instead of your skin.  An infuser can remain in place for 48 to 72 hours.
 
Jet injectors deliver insulin without using needles.  Jet injectors force insulin through the skin with pressure.  In some cases, this method may cause bruising.
 
The insulin pump is a small device that you can wear on your belt or carry in a pocket.  Insulin travels through soft plastic tubes to a catheter that is placed in the skin.  Some insulin pumps allow the catheter to remain in place while only needles are removed.  The insulin pumps are computerized to deliver steady doses of insulin and surge doses, per your instructions.  You will need to check your blood glucose levels more frequently than with other delivery methods.  However, many people prefer the pump because it allows them to have a more flexible lifestyle.
 
Every few months, you will need to have your doctor check your blood glucose average with the A1C test.  The A1C test measures your blood glucose level average for the course of about three months.  Your doctor will use this information to alter your course of treatment, if necessary. 
 
You will also need to test your urine per the guidelines set by your doctor.  People with Type 1 Diabetes should test their urine for ketones when their blood glucose level is high.  Urine testing involves placing test strips in your urine sample and reading the results after a short period of time.  
 
A microalbuminuria kit is used to measure the amount of protein in your urine.  The presence of microalbuminuria in the urine is an indicator of kidney disease.  People with Type 1 Diabetes are at risk for kidney damage.  The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes be tested for microalbuminuria every year.  Some people may need to perform the test more frequently to monitor the progression of kidney disease.  Microalbuminuria tests may be done in your doctor’s office or are now available in home testing kits. You apply your urine sample to the test kit and mail it to the company.  A physician must interpret your test results. The home testing kit allows you the convenience of testing your urine at home.
 
Managing Type 1 Diabetes also includes a nutritional component.  Your doctor or a registered nutritionist can help you plan what to eat to help regulate your blood glucose levels, cholesterol, and blood pressure.  A balanced meal plan includes a wide variety of foods, particularly vegetables, whole grains, non-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, poultry, and fish.  Your health care professional can help you learn to read nutrition labels, measure portion sizes, and plan balanced meals.
 
Exercise is another important element for managing Type 1 Diabetes.  Exercise may help to lower your blood glucose level, blood pressure, and cholesterol.  It also may help your body use insulin better.  You should strive for a combination of aerobic activity, strength training, and stretching.  Ideally you should exercise aerobically for 30 minutes a day, five days per week.  You can break the time period into three ten minute segments throughout the day or exercise for the entire 30 minutes.  Aerobic exercise includes physical activities that work your heart, lungs, and vascular system, such as quick walking, riding a stationary bike, or running.
 
In addition to managing your blood sugar, eating smart, and exercising, you should also maintain appropriate cholesterol and blood pressure levels.  It is also important to not smoke.  Smoking increases blood sugar and can contribute to the development of medical complications.  It is important that you take care of yourself daily and keep all of your doctor appointments.  Type 1 Diabetes is a lifelong condition; however, people with Type 1 diabetes can live healthy, happy, and long lives with good care.  

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Prevention

Type 1 Diabetes cannot be prevented. There is no test to screen for Type 1 Diabetes.  You should contact your doctor if you experience the symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes.  
Because the medical complications associated with diabetes can be very serious and life threatening, people with diabetes need to diligently manage their disease to remain healthy.  The following are suggestions for preventing complications from diabetes.

You should wear a MedicAlert bracelet and carry a MedicAlert card in your wallet.  In the case of an emergency, the MedicAlert information will be helpful to the healthcare professionals treating you. 
 
Monitor your blood glucose levels carefully, and treat yourself with insulin daily, as instructed by your doctor.  Make sure that you write down the time that you tested your blood and the result.  Take your logbook to each of your appointments.  See a physician regularly to prevent and stay on top of any problems that might develop. 
 
Eat a balanced diet and consult a nutrition expert for help with meal planning.  Exercise regularly and reduce your weight if you are overweight.  Even losing small amounts of weight is helpful for diabetes management.
 
Monitor your blood pressure.  Ask your doctor what your blood pressure should be, and contact your doctor when it is out of range.  You should also keep your cholesterol within normal limits.  Have regular cholesterol checks throughout the year, and follow your doctor’s instructions for lowering cholesterol.  
 
People with diabetes should have an eye exam at least once a year.  The eye examination should include screening for glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy.  
 
Attend all of your scheduled medical appointments.  Your feet should be inspected at every visit.  Discuss any concerns about depression with your doctor as well.

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Am I at Risk

The risk factors for Type 1 diabetes are unknown.  It appears to develop more frequently in Caucasians and people younger than 20 years old, although it may occur at any age.

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Complications

Most people with diabetes also have high cholesterol and high blood pressure.  These three factors combined—diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, increase the risk of developing a variety of serious medical complications.  Some of the symptoms may be obvious, while others may be subtle and develop over time.  It is important that you monitor yourself for signs and symptoms of medical complications and receive regular screening tests.  You should report your concerns to your doctor promptly. The following paragraphs describe some of the medical complications associated with Type 1 Diabetes.  
 
Type 1 Diabetes is associated with an increased risk of coronary artery “heart” disease, heart attack, and stroke.  Heart disease is the leading cause of diabetes related death in the United States.  Coronary artery disease causes the vessels that carry blood to your heart to narrow.  They can also become completely or partially blocked by fatty deposits.  A heart attack occurs when the heart does not receive blood or does not receive enough blood.  A stroke occurs when the brain does not receive blood or does not receive enough blood.  A heart attack or stroke can be fatal.  They can also cause permanent or temporary impairments and disability.
 
Kidney Disease, also called Nephropathy, can also be caused by diabetes.  Your kidneys remove waste products from your blood.  Diabetes can damage the filtering system in the kidneys resulting in kidney disease or kidney failure.  Persons with kidney failure need dialysis, a process in which a machine filters the blood.  Some people may even need a kidney transplant.
 
People with diabetes have a higher risk of eye problems and blindness than people without diabetes.  A long history of diabetes and older age are factors associated with developing glaucoma.  Glaucoma occurs when pressure builds up in the eye and causes gradual vision loss. People with diabetes tend to develop cataracts at a younger age and at a quicker rate than people without diabetes.  Cataracts cause the clear lens in the eye to become cloudy, diminishing vision.  
 
Diabetic retinopathy or retinal disorders can also be caused by diabetes.  The retina is the part of your eye that receives images. Nonproliferative retinopathy is a condition that affects the capillaries in the retina.  Retinal swelling can cause vision loss.  In some people, retinopathy progresses to a more serious condition called proliferative retinopathy.  The blood vessel damage caused by proliferative retinopathy causes scarring and eventual retina detachment destroys vision.
 
Nerve damage caused by diabetes is called diabetic neuropathy.  Nerves carry messages between your brain and body about pain, temperature, and touch.  They also control your muscle movements and organ systems, such as the processes for food digestion and urination.  Sensorimotor neuropathy and autonomic neuropathy are two common types of nerve damage.
 
Sensorimotor neuropathy affects sensation and movement.  It may cause your feet and hands to feel weak, tingly, numb, or painful.  Autonomic neuropathy affects the nerves that regulate involuntary functions or actions that you cannot directly control, such as your heartbeat.  Of great concern, it can cause a loss of the typical warning signs of a heart attack or low blood glucose levels.  Autonomic neuropathy can cause dizziness or faintness.  It can also create problems with digesting food; vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation; bladder function; sex; increased or decreased sweating; and changes in the way the eyes function in the dark or light. 
 
The feet are very vulnerable to diabetes-related complications.  There are a variety of foot problems that can occur.  Foot problems are the leading reason for diabetes-related hospitalization.  Further, diabetes is the leading cause of lower leg and foot amputation.  Diabetes-related foot conditions are most frequently caused by poor blood circulation, infection, and nerve damage that can result in ulcers or sores, deformities, and trauma. 
 
Diabetes can often lead to nerve damage called peripheral neuropathy.  Peripheral neuropathy is a condition in which nerve function deteriorates in the limbs.  This leads to a gradual loss of feeling in the hands, arms, legs, and feet.  This is often problematic because pain is what enables you to know when something is wrong.  Without pain, you may not realize that you have bruises, cuts, blisters or burns and seek medical treatment.  It is important that people with diabetes receive medical treatment for foot sores because diabetes-related circulation problems can lead to more medical conditions.
 
Peripheral vascular disease is a common diabetes-related circulation disorder.  Poor circulation results in reduced blood flow to the feet.  It can restrict the delivery of oxygen and nutrients that are required for normal wound maintenance and repair.  As a result, foot injuries, infections, and ulcers may heal slowly or poorly.  Minor skin problems on the feet can become worse and lead to infection.
 
Wounds and injuries can be difficult to heal if diabetes is uncontrolled.  This can be especially true of wounds in the feet.  Infections tend to get worse or remain undetected, especially in the presence of diabetic neuropathy or vascular disease. Neuropathy can cause you to be unaware of wounds.  Additionally, the increased pressure from the feet carrying the body weight aggravates foot wounds.  Further, shoes can cause skin friction, rubbing, and tearing. The hot moist environment of shoes is favorable to infection and foot ulcers.  Foot ulcers are sores caused by skin breakdown.  They can be exacerbated by infection.  Foot ulcers tend to develop over areas of high pressure, such as bony prominences or foot deformities. 
 
Foot deformities are another common problem associated with diabetes.  They occur when the ligaments and muscles that stabilize the foot bones deteriorate.  This can cause the bones to shift out of position or an arch to collapse.  
 
A hammertoe deformity is a common condition that occurs most frequently in the second toe, although it can be present in more than one toe.  Increased pressure on the tips of the toes and the lack of muscle stability causes a joint in the toe to become permanently flexed with a claw-like appearance.  The toe deformity and pressure displacement makes the toe susceptible to skin ulcers.
 
Charcot foot is another common foot deformity associated with diabetic neurogenic arthropathy.  Neurogenic arthropathy is a progressive degenerative arthritis that results from nerve damage. Charcot foot most frequently affects the metatarsal and tarsal bones located in the midfoot and forefoot.
 
Charcot foot causes the foot muscles, ligaments, and joints to degenerate or break down.  Without support, the foot becomes wider and deformed.  Without joint stability, the foot becomes unstable, making walking difficult.  Inflammation and pressure eventually can cause bone dislocation.  The arches in the foot collapse, creating a rocker-bottom appearance.  
 
People with Charcot foot have impaired or absent abilities to feel pain, temperature, and trauma.  They may not be able to sense the position that their foot is in.  This makes them vulnerable to injury, such as fractures, sprains, joint dislocation, bone erosion, cartilage damage, and foot deformity.  They may even continue to walk on a broken bone without knowing it, because they cannot feel it.
 
People with diabetes are generally more prone to skin infections and skin disorders than people without diabetes.  People with diabetes have a greater tendency to get bacterial infections, fungal infections, and itchy skin.  Some skin problems happen mostly to or only to people with diabetes.  Such conditions include diabetic dermopathy, necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum, atherosclerosis, and eruptive xanthomatosis.  
 
Bacterial infections tend to manifest as styes on the eyelid, boils, infected hair follicles, deep infections under the skin, and nail infections.  Bacterial infections cause the skin to become hot, swollen, red, and painful.  Fungus infections are caused by yeast-like organisms.  They create itchy rashes in moist areas of the skin.  Common fungal infections include jock itch, athlete’s foot, ringworm, and vaginal infections.  Both bacterial infections and fungal infections can be treated with prescription medication.
 
Diabetic dermopathy and necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum (NLD) are similar skin disorders caused by changes in the blood vessels.  Both conditions cause brown spots to appear on the skin.  Diabetic dermopathy is harmless, but NLD can cause the skin to crack and bleed.  NLD is a rare condition affecting mostly adult women.  Open sores need to be treated by a doctor.
 
People with diabetes tend to get atherosclerosis at a younger age than people without diabetes.  Atherosclerosis causes the arteries to thicken, narrowing the route for blood flow.  It results in skin changes.  The skin becomes hairless, thin, cool, and shiny.  The toes become cold, and the toenails thicken and discolor.  Atherosclerosis can also cause wounds to heal slower or become infected because of lack of blood flow.
 
Eruptive xanthomatosis usually occurs among young men with Type 1 Diabetes.  It typically develops when diabetes is not controlled, in conjunction with high cholesterol and fat in the blood.  Eruptive xanthomatosis causes firm, yellow, pea-sized bumps in the skin.  The bumps may have a red ring and itch.  They occur most often on the backs of the hands, feet, arms, legs, and buttocks.  The condition usually resolves when the diabetes is controlled.  
 
People with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes can experience gastroparesis, a stomach disorder in which the movement of food is slowed or stopped.  Gastroparesis occurs when high blood glucose levels damage the vagus nerve and the nerves that regulate stomach functioning over a period of time.  The muscles in the stomach and intestines stop working properly. Signs and symptoms of gastroparesis include heartburn, nausea, vomiting, feeling full early when eating, weight loss, bloating, erratic blood glucose levels, lack of appetite, reflux, and stomach spasms.  
 
If food stays in the stomach too long it can be dangerous.  Delayed stomach emptying can lead to bacterial overgrowth and stomach or intestinal obstructions.  Medications and nutritional changes can treat gastroparesis.  In severe cases, a feeding tube may need to be inserted to deliver nutrients to the small intestine.  
 
Finally, people with diabetes have a greater risk of depression than people without diabetes.  Depression is a real medical condition that can be treated.  Depression is not a “normal part” of every day life.  Symptoms of depression include continually feel sad, irritable, tired, and uninterested in activities that you used to find enjoyable.  Other common symptoms of depression include changes in appetite, having difficulty getting a good night’s sleep, moving the body at a much slower pace, and not being able to remember things or concentrate as easily as before. 
 
Doctors are not exactly sure why people with diabetes are at risk for developing depression.  They suspect that people cope with diabetes management differently.  Additionally, some of the symptoms of low or high blood sugar can cause symptoms that look like depression.  You should discuss your concerns with your doctor in order to receive appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

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Advancements

Prevention, technology, and research have greatly improved the management of this diabetes.  Sugar-free foods, new types of insulin, and easy-to-use insulin delivery methods have made diabetes management more convenient.  The American Diabetes Association’s Resource Guide is a great resource for new products.  
 
Pancreas transplants are an option for select people with Type 1 Diabetes.  In some people, a pancreas transplant can “cure” Type 1 Diabetes.  However, there are high risks involved with pancreas transplantation; some people do not survive.  The transplanted pancreas is at risk for being rejected by the body.  Further, people must take anti-rejection medications that have their own risks.  Researchers are studying the effects of transplanting just the islet or beta cells from the pancreas, in hopes that it is more effective.

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