Diabetes is characterized by a defect in insulin production, secretion, or both; causing high levels of glucose in the bloodstream. Normally, glucose levels are tightly controlled by insulin (a hormone produced by the pancreas); however, in patients with diabetes, the absence or lowered production of insulin causes a hyperglycemic state (excess sugar in the blood). There are two types of diabetes, type 1, juvenile diabetes where the body attacks the pancreas rendering it incapable of producing insulin, and type 2, adult onset diabetes where the pancreas produces insulin, but at a much lower level than the body needs. Type 2 diabetes was formerly thought to occur in patients who were 30 or older; however, over the past decade, more and more teens have been diagnosed with type 2. Type 2 diabetes is now more common than type 1 in childhood, attributed to poor eating habits, excessive body weight, and lack of exercise. Obesity increases a person's propensity to develop diabetes by double that of normal weight individuals. Diabetes is the third leading cause of death in the United States after heart disease and cancer.

Symptoms of Diabetes:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent urination
  • Infections of bladder, skin , and vaginal areas
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss

Insulin is the most common treatment for patients with type 1 diabetes and plays a major role treating type 2 as well, when glucose levels cannot be controlled by weight loss, diet, and implementation of exercise. Insulin can be administered in many ways: pre-filled insulin pen, insulin pump, inhalation (currently undergoing testing and not approved by the US FDA). Testing is also being done on intranasal insulin delivery, transdermal insulin patches, and insulin pills; however, all three methods are plagued by poor absorbtion.

Medical Risks:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Blindness
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Death
  • Kidney failure
  • Nerve damage
  • Stroke