Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is a condition in which the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas have been destroyed by the body’s immune system. The body requires insulin to use glucose (a form of sugar) in the blood for fuel. Without insulin, the body can’t make use of the glucose and the cells are starved for energy. Regular injections of insulin are needed to stay alive.
The American Diabetes Association estimates 23.6 million people in the U.S. have diabetes. Type 1 accounts for 5 to 10 of these cases. Most cases are diagnosed in childhood and young adulthood.
Over time, people with diabetes are at increased risk for a number of significant health problems, like heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, neuropathy (disease of the nervous system), poor or slow wound healing times, amputation and dental disease. According to the CDC, diabetics spend about 2.3 times more money on health care than those without the condition. In 2007, the estimated cost of diabetes to the U.S. economy was $174 billion.
Importance of Glucose Control
People with Type 1 diabetes need to regularly monitor blood sugar levels and give themselves insulin replacement to keep glucose levels within a target range.
Maintaining tight control over glucose may reduce the risk for many diabetes complications. However, regulation of blood sugar can be tricky. If glucose levels are too high, patients may be at increased risk for future complications. If glucose levels drop too low, there is a risk for hypoglycemia (which can cause shaking, dizziness, sweating, confusion, seizure or loss of consciousness). Researchers report that parents (especially mothers) of children with type 1 diabetes worry most about a hypoglycemic reaction.
Controlling Insulin Levels
There are two main ways to get insulin into the body. The first is through insulin injections. The injections may be given with a syringe or a pen-like device. After getting a blood sugar reading, the patient calculates how much insulin is needed and injects the correct amount into the body.
A second method of insulin delivery is with a pump. Insulin pumps are small devices that are worn on a belt or placed in a pocket. They contain a storage unit for insulin and a tiny pump to deliver the drug through a cannula (tube) inserted into the skin. The pump provides a continuous flow of low dose insulin. An extra amount of insulin can be delivered after meals or snacks by pushing a button on the pump.
An insulin pump can be useful in maintaining proper blood sugar levels, even in children. However, traditional pumps have tubing that may get in the way. The pumps require a needle to insert the end of the tube under the skin. In addition, the pumps must be disconnected when bathing, showering or swimming. Patients must learn to adjust for insulin needs during the time the pump is disconnected.
The OmniPod® is a type of insulin pump that doesn’t use tubing. It consists of two parts. The Pod contains the pump, cannula, needle and insulin reservoir. The PDM (Personal Diabetes Manager) is a small computerized unit with a blood glucose meter.
To use the OmniPod, the Pod is filled with insulin and placed on the body in an acceptable location. A self-stick adhesive keeps it attached to the skin. Once the Pod is secured, a button is pushed on the PDM, which sends a wireless signal to the Pod. Then the Pod automatically inserts the cannula and starts delivering insulin. The hand-held device can be carried in a pocket, purse or backpack. The Pod continually monitors glucose levels. However, patients must still perform a finger stick test to confirm the readings are correct. But instead of a separate glucose meter, the test strips can be read by the PDM. If needed, the PDM can send a signal to the Pod to adjust the dose of insulin. The Pod holds up to 200 units of insulin and lasts up to three days. The Pod is then removed and replaced with a fresh unit.
The Pod is watertight, so it can be worn while showering, bathing, or swimming, for up to 60 minutes at a time. Patients can also wear the Pod while playing sports.
The PDM continually records blood glucose levels and insulin delivery and can keep track of carbohydrate intake. This information can be downloaded onto a computer to help patients and their physicians monitor their treatment and maintain better control over their diabetes.
The OmniPod is simple to operate and safe to use for a child. Parents can use the PDM to monitor or adjust a child’s insulin needs as long as the Pod and PDM are no more than two feet away from each other.
AUDIENCE INQUIRYFor information about the OmniPod® System, go to: http://www.myomnipod.com
For general information on type 1 diabetes:
American Diabetes Association, http://www.diabetes.org
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, http://www.jdrf.org
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, http://www.niddk.nih.gov
BIBLIOGRAPHYBarnard, Katharine, et al., “Fear of Hypoglycaemia in Parents of Young Children with Type 1 Diabetes,” BMC Pediatrics, July 15, 2010, Vol. 10, p. 50.
Butner, Jonathan, et al., “Parent-Adolescent Discrepancies in Adolescents’ Competence and the Balance of Adolescent Autonomy and Adolescent and Parent Well-Being in the Context of Type 1 Diabetes,” Developmental Psychology, May 2009, Vol. 45, No. 3, pp. 835-849.
Luyckx, Koen, Ph.D., et al., “Glycemic Control, Coping and Internalizing and Externalizing Symptoms in Adolescents with Type 1 Diabetes,” Diabetes Care, July 2010, Vol. 33, No. 7, pp. 1424-1429.
Nansel, T., et al., “Quality of Life in Children with Type 1 Diabetes,” Diabetes Medicine, November 2008, Vol. 25, No. 11, pp. 1316-1323.
Rabiau, Marjorie, et al., “Compensatory Beliefs About Glucose Testing are Associated with Low Adherence to Treatment and Poor Metabolic Control in Adolescents with Type 1 Diabetes,” Health Education Research, October 2009, Col. 24, No. 5, pp. 890-896.