Doctors and researches are coming close to developing a cure for T1DM (see Chapter 21), but it won't involve patients using insulin. Insulin helps to control the blood glucose, but so far it's impossible to deliver insulin in the body in the same way that it comes from the pancreas. It also isn't possible to fine-tune the insulin dose like the body can, releasing and destroying insulin to maintain a blood glucose no lower than 80 mg/dl and no higher than 120 mg/dl.
Insulin tried on kids with a high risk of T1DM in the Diabetes Prevention Trials (ongoing trials of various drugs that may prevent T1DM) wasn't successful in preventing the disease. Insulin is a powerful drug that has saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people with diabetes, but none of them has been cured. The most to hope for is that insulin keeps the blood glucose sufficiently low so complications of diabetes don't develop.
Many myths concern great new cures for T1DM with this medication or that medication. Ignore them. At the present time, no single medication can cure T1DM.
You're More Prone to Illness When You Have Type 1 Diabetes
If you compare frequency of illness in the population with T1DM with that of people who don't have diabetes, there's no difference between them. This myth about being prone to illness is a popular one that originated when T1DM was so hard to treat before 1921. Back then, kids with T1DM were a very sick bunch.
People with T1DM get viral illnesses no more often than those without T1DM. They need to take a flu shot every year to prevent the severe illness that may be associated with that disease. Elderly people with T1DM especially should get shots for pneumonia and shingles. But if someone with T1DM comes down with a bug, he has to adjust his insulin intake, modify his diet, and take medications carefully. See Chapter 15 for details.
Women with Type 1 Diabetes Shouldn't Get Pregnant
A woman with T1DM must take a number of precautions when dealing with pregnancy, like checking for any diabetic complications before she conceives and throughout the pregnancy, but besides that, she can have a textbook pregnancy and baby. Healthy, happy babies are born to women with T1DM every day. Much of Chapter 16 is devoted to how they do it.
The woman with T1DM who's even thinking about a pregnancy must improve her glucose control so that she has a hemoglobin A1c below 7 percent before she conceives. (See Chapter 7 for more about hemoglobin A1c.) She also must keep her blood glucose below 90 mg/dl before a meal and below 120 mg/dl an hour after the meal throughout the pregnancy.
Doctors Are Hiding the Cure for Type 1 Diabetes So They Can Make More Money
This myth sounds so silly, but I've heard it from people I respect. They think there's a hidden agreement that the cure for T1DM, which has already been found, won't be made available so that doctors and drug and device companies can continue to profit from caring for patients with T1DM.
There's nothing further from the truth than this myth. Scientists are a highly competitive bunch. None of them is holding back a T1DM cure because they can feel the others breathing down their necks! Thousands of hard-working doctors and other scientists have dedicated their lives to finding a cure for T1DM. (Chapter 21 features just a few of them.) I attend conferences on diabetes regularly, and at each one, I see numerous presentations showing just how close researchers are to a cure for T1DM.
316 Part V: The Part of Tens
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