Type 1 Diabetes May Develop More Slowly than Originally Thought
One of the biggest challenges physicians have had to face is understanding how type 1 diabetes emerges in their patients. A new study published in this month’s issue of the magazine Diabetes Care found that diabetes may not develop as quickly as originally thought. This may offer some encouragement for patients and their physicians as they try to find the best course of treatment.
Tracking Diabetes with C-Peptide
The study was conducted by analyzing the insulin levels of 182 men, women and children suffering from type 1 diabetes. Their insulin levels were tracked with C-peptide.
According to Denise Faustman, a renowned immunology expert, new data suggests that the pancreas continues to produce insulin for years or even decades after the onset of type 1 diabetes. In fact, about one out of ten of the people in Faustman’s study who had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes between 30 and 40 years earlier still produced C-peptide. This contradicts previously held beliefs that the pancreas stops producing insulin after the patient underwent more advanced stages of type 1 diabetes.
Accurate Measurements of Insulin Levels
Identifying the rate at which patients produce insulin is essential for several reasons. First of all, it can help physicians measure insulin levels more accurately as they treat their patients. After monitoring the insulin levels, physicians will have better faith in their ability to regulate glucose levels in their patients. Finally, they will be able to potentially stall the progression of diabetes.
Medical professionals face the regular challenge of deciding which patients are going to need the most extensive treatment. Some patients require sulfonylureas, while others require insulin injections or even insulin pumps. Without an accurate understanding of the course and outlook for their patients, doctors may institute the wrong measures for their patients. Improper treatments could lead to life-threatening complications for their patients.
Diagnosis with Type 1 Diabetes
Dr. Faustman said that one of the most depressing things a patient can hear is that they have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. They almost invariably face additional disappointment when their doctors tell them that they are not managing their glucose levels properly. She said that this study should change the perspectives of both patients and doctors. Doctors will be able to offer better words of encouragement as they try to help their patients overcome the disease.