Diabetes Research

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20 March 2016

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Diabetes is often referred to by doctors as diabetes mellitus. This describes a group of diseases in which the person has high blood glucose (blood sugar). This could be because either insulin production is inadequate or the body’s cells do not respond properly to insulin. There are 3 types of diabetes:

1)Type 1 Diabetes:
The body does not produce insulin. People usually develop type 1 diabetes in early adulthood or teenage years. Approximately 10% of all diabetes cases are type 1, it is nowhere near as common as type 2. Patients with type 1 diabetes will need to take insulin injections for the rest of their life and carry out regular blood tests and a special diet to ensure proper blood-glucose levels.

2)Type 2 Diabetes:
The body does not produce enough insulin for proper function, or the cells in the body do not react to insulin. Some people may be able to control their type 2 diabetes symptoms by losing weight, a healthy diet, and doing lots of exercise. They would also have to monitor their blood-glucose levels. Although the patients will most likely end up having to take insulin in tablet form because type 2 diabetes is typically a progressive disease.

3)Gestational Diabetes:
This type affects woman during pregnancy, some woman have very high levels of glucose in their bodies and are unable to produce enough insulin. The majority of gestational diabetes patients can control their diabetes with exercise and diet. Undiagnosed or uncontrolled gestational diabetes can raise the risk of complications during childbirth.


For 2,000 years diabetes has been recognized as a devastating and deadly disease. In the 17th century a London physician, Dr. Thomas Willis, determined whether his patients had diabetes or not by sampling their urine. If it had a sweet taste he would diagnose them with diabetes mellitus- “honeyed” diabetes. In the early 20th century, diabetologists such as Dr. Frederick Allen prescribed low calorie diets-as little as 450 calories per day for his patients. His diet prolonged the life of people with diabetes but kept them weak and suffering from near starvation. In his book, The Discovery of Insulin, Michael Bliss describes the painful wasting death of many people with diabetes before insulin: “Food and drink no longer mattered, often could not be taken.

A restless drowsiness shaded into semi-consciousness. As the lungs heaved desperately to expel carbonic acid (as carbon dioxide), the dying diabetic took huge gasps of air to try to increase his capacity. ‘Air hunger’ the doctors called it, and the whole process was sometimes described as ‘internal suffocation.’ The gasping and sighing and sweet smell lingered on as the unconsciousness became a deep diabetic coma. At that point the family could make its arrangements with the undertaker, for within a few hours death would end the suffering.”

Then in 1921 something truly miraculous occurred in Ontario, Canada. A young surgeon Frederick Banting, and his assistant Charles Best, kept a severely diabetic dog alive for 70 days by injecting it with a murky concoction of canine pancreas extract. Since insulin’s discovery, medical breakthroughs continued to prolong and ease the lives of people with diabetes. In 1935 Roger Hinsworth discovered there were two types of diabetes: “insulin sensitive” (type I) and “insulin insensitive” (type II). By differentiating between the two types of diabetes, Hinsworth helped open up new avenues of treatment. In the 1950s, oral medications-sulfonylureas were developed for people with type II. These drugs stimulate the pancreas to produce more insulin, helping people with type II diabetes keep tighter control over their blood sugars. In the 1960s urine strips were developed, and Becton-Dickinson introduced the single use syringe in 1961. This greatly reduced the amount of pain from injections as well as the time-consuming ritual of boiling needles and glass syringes.

Chemistry behind diabetes

Diabetes is characterized by elevated levels of glucose in the body. The management of insulin therapy in relation to carbohydrates can be hard to deal with for most diabetics. Carbohydrates lead to increased blood sugar. Once digested, carbohydrates break down into glucose molecules, which are then converted into ATP in the cells with insulin. Too little insulin causes an excess of unconverted glucose, and too much insulin causes low blood sugar. Carbohydrates are necessary when a diabetic is experiencing hypoglycemia to compensate for the excess insulin in the blood stream, which can lead to serious consequences, such as seizure or even death.

Social Impacts

Diabetes is more than a health condition. For most people, it’s a new way of life, and it affects relationships in all areas as much as it affects eating and physical activity. One challenge facing a diabetes student is the ongoing medical care required during school hours. It is up to the parents to make sure the school officials, nurses, and teachers are educated and comply with their child’s needs. Another challenge is helping the child fit in. often other children have no knowledge or understanding of diabetes and with a perception that the child is being treated differently this could lead to teasing and possibly bullying. Sports are an important part of many people’s lives. Teamwork and physical activity are vital parts of a well-rounded life. Diabetes doesn’t have to alter that Exercise is essential in diabetes management, and participation in sports can provide this and other benefits. But it does require some extra effort by the diabetic.

Economic impacts

Diabetes is a disease that occurs worldwide, and therefore its economic impact is experienced globally. With increasing concern among providers about the rising cost of health care, economic assessments of the impact of various diseases are growing in importance. This imposes a large economic burden on the individual, national healthcare system and economy.

Environmental impacts

Environmental factors appear to play an important role in the pathogenesis of childhood-onset of type 1 diabetes. Breastfeeding, the early presence or lack of certain foods, birth weight, childhood over-nutrition, and negative stress events have been shown to be related to the prevalence of type 1 diabetes. More studies are starting to show that pollution can affect the symptoms of diabetes by increasing inflammation and contributing to weight gain. People who live in urban areas are more likely to breathe polluted air, which is believed to be a factor in insulin resistance. Moreover, diabetics have a harder time controlling blood flow during times where air pollution is increased leading to intensified cardiovascular problems.

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"Diabetes Research" StudyScroll, 20-Mar-2016. [Online]. Available: https://studyscroll.com/diabetes-research-essay. [Accessed: 29-Sep-2023]

StudyScroll. (2016). Diabetes Research. [Online]. Available at: https://studyscroll.com/diabetes-research-essay [Accessed: 29-Sep-2023]

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