The future has arrived for many of those afflicted with type 1 diabetes. This is the variety of the disease that sets on in early childhood and it is the result of an autoimmune disorder. Basically, the immune system attacks the insulin producing cells of the pancreas and little or no insulin is produced.
The Importance of Insulin
Without insulin, sugars would never get into cells so that it could be used as energy. This is to say that, without insulin, mammalian life would be impossible. This is, for the most part, true. Insulin is needed for the proper maintenance of blood glucose levels.
If blood sugar is too low, seizures, loss of neurological function, and other serious problems including death will occur. If blood sugar is too high, there are a myriad of other health problems that ensue.
Type 1 Diabetes
For those with type 1 diabetes, the issue is that the pancreas does not produce the insulin needed to maintain a healthy metabolism and blood sugar levels. In fact, there is little to no response at all. As a result, people with this disease need to check their blood sugar levels often and they need to administer treatment one way or the other.
If the sugar is too high, insulin must be administered to reduce it. If it is too low, food or glucose must be given to raise it back up in order to prevent serious complications which actually include death.
This means that people with diabetes need to constantly check their blood sugar and administer insulin when they test too high. Now there is a new technology available to them to break this cycle. It is called a hybrid close-loop insulin delivery system and it is truly amazing.
Normally, the cycle would continue to lead to more testing and more dosing, more eating and then more dosing, and so on. Patients have to make numerous lifestyle changes in order to accommodate the changes in insulin dependence.
What Happens Now
With the new system, there is a solution. Basically, this is a type of insulin pump that also monitors blood sugar. It acts as an artificial pancreas when it comes to insulin production. The pump is totally synthetic and attached on the outside of the body but it will deliver insulin when the blood sugar is high.
Since this has been developed, a number of pediatric patients are doing very well. Whereas they once had to get tested and injected multiple times a day with complications, now they are able to live normal lives and still get the level of monitoring and blood sugar control that a normal pancreas would maintain.
Researchers are working on bettering the system so that it is more precise. As it stands now, it is largely in the research phases. However, in the near future, it is expected that patients with type 1 diabetes will be able to have consistent and safe blood sugar control with the addition of a simple device which acts as an artificial pancreas.