Sugar Matters
February 12, 2010
Different Diabetes: Type 1

THIS WEEK we will start a brief trip through a slightly different land of type 1 diabetes. This column has focused mainly on Type 2 diabetes because that is what most adults (age 18 and older) suffer, including the population in St.Vincent and the Grenadines. Type 1 diabetes on the other hand is less frequent in the population, and in some ways quite different than Type 2.{{more}}

First let’s get some old ideas out of the way:

Old idea: “Type 1 diabetes happens only in children”-FALSE.

Type 1 diabetes is definitely diagnosed more in younger people, BUT over the past several years we are noting that more and more older people have actually Type 1 diabetes and not Type 2 as we previously thought. Case in point: my dear brother-in-law was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes last September when he was 36 years old.

Old idea: “People with Type 1 diabetes die young.”- FALSE.

In the old days before insulin, yes this was true, but not now. Type 1 diabetes REQUIRES insulin for medication, because pills by mouth will not work. THEY WILL NOT WORK NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU TAKE. However, now that we have insulin, and all kinds of it really, people with Type 1 diabetes can live as long as everyone else if they take care of themselves.

Old idea: “People with type 1 diabetes will go blind and end up on dialysis.” – FALSE

Just like people with type 2 diabetes, the key here is getting blood sugars and blood pressure under control. For ALL DIABETICS, your chances of having kidney or eye problems increase rapidly if you let your sugars get out of control, and worse if they stay out of control. It does not matter type 1 or type 2, this is true for all people with diabetes. However, if you keep your sugars controlled, there is actually a very good chance that none of those issues with develop at all. My current champion patient is an 82-year-old man who had Type 1 diabetes since he was 11 years old. Notice how old he is: that means when he was diagnosed, as a kid, there was only the old kind of insulin around. When this man was a boy he injected insulin 4-6 times a day to keep his blood sugars controlled. He had some low blood sugars and some high, of course, but overall he kept it under control. Now at age 82, he has NO kidney problems, his eyes are PERFECT, and he has no heart disease and no nerve problems. NONE.

Use him as your poster child/hero and remember that it CAN be done.

That’s our start for this week. Next week we will get into more detail about Type 1 diabetes. Stay with me here, Vincies! Until next week, stay safe and healthy.

Anita Ramsetty, MD [email protected]
Medical Director Endocrine Care Group
Tel: 843-798-4227