Diabetes has been called the “epidemic of the 21st century,” and has killed more people than all cancers combined.
Around three million Americans are living with Type-One diabetes, and nearly 24 million have Type-Two, now there is a growing threat to many of those living with the disease.
Dr. Steve Edelman of UC San Diego is a diabetes specialist, but for him, diabetes is a disease he knows all too well, "I got diabetes when I was 15. I was super tired. I would fall asleep in class. I had excessive thirst."
Edelman has Type-One diabetes, a disease that used to be known as Juvenile Diabetes, but can affect people at any age. He is able to keep his type one diabetes under control with an insulin pump.
His patient Dara Elstein has type two diabetes, a genetic disease that is made worse by poor diet and lack of exercise. In type two, patients either do not have enough insulin or their body is resistant to it.
Dara also shares in her doctor’s excessive thirst, "I was drinking probably close to 70 to 80 ounces of water in about a three hour time sitting.”
Drugs helped Dara lose 70 pounds. The dramatic weight loss should have helped her get off her medications for type two, but it did not. Further tests revealed Dara had double diabetes, meaning she has both type one and type two simultaneously.
"I didn't even know that was a possibility,” said Dara.
Doctors are seeing double diabetes more and more frequently. It can hit those with type one or type two, and if it goes untreated, patients can experience symptoms of both such as increased thirst and frequent urination, blurred vision, slow healing of sores and frequent infections.
Now that Dara knows she has it, she is trying to control the disease by keeping a close eye on her glucose monitor, taking daily pills, and giving herself up to nine insulin shots a day.
Dara says it is a constant struggle. A struggle she will continue to fight, and one that more people will likely have to fight too.
The latest hope for diabetes patients is an artificial pancreas that is currently in the works. The prototype automatically monitors blood sugar levels and deals with any problems instantly, without the patient checking levels or giving him or herself shots.
WHAT IS DOUBLE DIABETES: Double diabetes, also called hybrid diabetes or type-3 diabetes, is a combination of both type-1 and type-2 diabetes and can develop in individuals that initially only had type-1 or type-2. The number of people with double diabetes in the United States is rising and can be hard to diagnose and treat since symptoms of both type-1 and type-2 diabetes are experienced by individuals with the hybrid diabetes.
WHAT CAUSES DOUBLE DIABETES: Double diabetes can be caused by a couple different things, dependent on whether the individual first had type-1 or type-2. If type-1 diabetics begin to gain a lot of excess weight, their body may start to become insulin-resistant. This means that in addition to their bodies' inability to produce insulin due to type-1 diabetes, their typical insulin injections will no longer work because they have become insulin-resistant, which is the cause of type-2 diabetes. The person then develops double diabetes and may need to begin taking medications along with insulin injections in order to control their blood sugar levels. Type-2 diabetics who develop double diabetes are even more difficult to treat because the onset of type-1 diabetes could be a result of antibodies which attack the pancreatic cells that produce insulin. So whatever insulin their pancreas could produce is being destroyed by their own antibodies leading to symptoms of type-1 diabetes along with their old type-2 symptoms.
PREVENTION: Double diabetes can be difficult to treat because symptoms of both type-1 and type-2 diabetes need to be treated. However, there are some lifestyle changes and precautions that can be taken to help prevent the development of double diabetes for those who are already diabetic as well as those who are not.
1. Eat well-balanced and nutritious meals with limited carbohydrates, which have a lot of sugar, and lots of proteins and good fats. This will help diabetics maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
2. Exercise regularly to avoid gaining too much weight which can lead to type-2 diabetes.
3. For people who are already diabetic, they need to understand when and how to coordinate insulin injections before meals. (Source: www.americandiabetes.com)
? For More Information, Contact:
Steven Edelman, M.D., Diabetes Specialist
University of California San Diego