Islets of Hope for persons newly diagnosed with diabetes
Article by Lahle Wolfe. For reprint information e-mail: Editor@isletsofhope.com
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Important Medical Disclaimer
Islets of Hope strongly recommends you seek the advice of a medical professional for your diagnosis and treatment options, or before making any changes to your diabetes care plan.
Q: What type of doctor diagnoses and treats diabetes?
A: An endocronologist, diabetologist, or other physician specializing in endocrine disorders.
According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) there are approximately 18.2 million people with diabetes. Someone is diagnosed every 40 seconds and someone dies from diabetes related complications every 3 minutes.
Other contents include information on symptoms, complications, exercise and nutrition, blood sugar control, sexual issues, drug therapies, insulin regimes, and much more. Plus, information for every parent about children, schools, and day care. This updated third edition features new information on medications, diabetes management and new therapies, and new treatments for diabetes complications.
Dr Charles Fox
Patient complaints of problem areas with diabetes
Acanthosis nigricans (AN) is a dark, skin discoloration associated with insulin resistance that is often found on the nape of neck, groin, and underarms but can also be seen in other places on the body and face. It may be seen in persons with type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes, and in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome. It may also be seen in persons with Addison's Disease, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, and Hemochromatosis (iron overload, or "bronze" diabetes). The skin affected by AN may also take on a velvety texture.
It is more common in those with darker complexions, but can affect anyone with high levels of insulin (insulin resistance). It is usually a benign condition (no health risks) but one form of AN can be malignant so it is important that you discuss any skin changes with your doctor. And, while AN itself may not be dangerous, the underlying cause like diabetes can be.
Improving insulin resistance through exercise, changes in diet, losing weight, and medication when necessary, usually will result in reversing AN, which typically causes no scarring or permanent skin changes.
For more information on causes, treatment and concerns about AN, or to see a picture of AN, see our comprehensive information section on Acanthosis Nigricans.
Acne is an inflammatory disease of the skin, caused by changes in the pilosebaceous units (skin structures consisting of a hair follicle and its associated sebaceous gland).
The condition is common in puberty as a result of an abnormal response to normal levels of the male hormone testosterone. The response for most people diminishes over time and acne thus tends to disappear, or at least decrease, after one reaches their early twenties. There is, however, no way to predict how long it will take for it to disappear entirely, and some individuals will continue to suffer from acne decades later, into their thirties and forties and even beyond. Acne affects a large percentage of humans at some stage in life.
Many persons with metabolic disorders continue to suffer from acne into adulthood due to hormonal imbalance. These include:
People with diabetes or other insulin or carbohydrate metabolic problems can suffer scalp or body hair loss. This condition, called alopecia areata, is a chronic type of hair loss that can evidence in any area where hair is present, especially on the scalp. It is a benign condition (causes no harm to the body) but it can be psychologically distressing to persons suffering hair loss from AA.
Causes vary, as does treatment, and many who suffer from AA will regrow some or all of their hair within a year. However, the causes of hair loss in those with metabolic disorders may be due to high levels of insulin, testosterone, or another hormonal imbalance. It is important to discuss hair loss with your doctor in order to determine if there is an underlying disorder that needs to be treated.
Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome often suffer from both hair loss (alopecia) and excess body and facial hair (hirsutism) as a result of hormonal imbalances.
Tooth and gum problems can happen to anyone. A sticky film full of germs (called plaque) builds up on your teeth. High blood glucose (also called blood sugar) helps germs (bacteria) grow. Then you can get red, sore, and swollen gums that bleed when you brush your teeth.
People with diabetes can have tooth and gum problems more often if their blood glucose stays high. High blood glucose can make tooth and gum problems worse. You can even lose your teeth.
Smoking makes it more likely for you to get a bad case of gum disease, especially if you have diabetes and are age 45 or older.
Red, sore, and bleeding gums are the first sign of gum disease. This can lead to periodontitis, an infection in the gums and the bone that holds the teeth in place. If the infection gets worse, your gums may pull away from your teeth, making your teeth look long.
Call your dentist if you think you have problems with your teeth or gums.
If you have one or more of these problems, you may have tooth and gum damage from diabetes:
Hirsutism (Excess body and facial hair)
Hirsutism is the excessive growth of hair (thicker, darker and in greater quantity). Women normally have facial hair which is usually fine ("peach fuzz") and often not noticeable. When these hairs masculinize, or, turn into male terminal hairs, they become thicker, darker, and grow longer and faster. This gives the impression that there is more hair, when it fact, it is just existing hair follicles responding to disease or some hormonal imbalance.
Hirsutism is generally caused by increased androgens, especially the male hormone testosterone. It is a common sign of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in women because elevated androgens are often associated with this condition. In addition to abnormal levels of testosterone, women with PCOS may also have unopposed estrogen (high levels of estrogen and low levels of progesterone).
Hirsutism can be caused, or made worse by:
Treatment involves addressing the cosmetic issues of excess hair by shaving, depilatories, electrolysis, or laser treatments, as well as medications and lifestyle changes (including weight loss) to address any underlying hormonal issues that contribute to hirsutism.
The honeymoon phase (or "period") is a period of time after diagnosis where the pancreas resumes making some insulin. This can change how much insulin a person may need to inject since their body is temporarily and rather unpredictably producing some insulin.
Why and how skin tags form is not entirely known, but there are correlations with age and obesity. They are more common in people with diabetes mellitus, insulin resistance, carbohydrate sensitivity, and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). It is estimated that by age 70, up to 59 percent of people have them. A genetic component (causation) is thought to exist. Skin tags are harmless, but they may be an indication of, or result from, carbohydrate sensitivity or carbohydrate-related, metabolic disorders.
Persons with insulin resistance, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and diabetes of all types may be especially prone to yeast infections. Yeast can infect various parts of the body in children and adults; men and women including the skin, groin areas, and vagina.
Yeast infections are more likely to be a problem when blood glucose is high, or with a diet high in carbohydrates.
You cannot diagnose yeast infections yourself. If you suspect a yeast infection, you may try over-the-counter medications approved for the type of yeast infection you suspect (i.e. Monostat for vaginal yeast infection) if the symptoms are not severe. However, for severe or chronic symptoms always see your doctor because over-the-counter medications only work on certain types of common yeast.
Page Updated 07/29/2006