In this medical health video learn how a diagnosis of diabetes means a life full of needles. But breakthroughs in testing methods and insulin injection devices are changing that.
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Dean Edell: Welcome to Medical Breakthroughs. I'm doctor Dean Edell. 21 million Americans have some form of diabetes, 6 million more have it but don't know it. Diagnosis and management of diabetes involves needles and blood, which can be frightening to many people, but what happens if it's let unchecked, can be so much worse. That's why diagnosis and treatment options that require fewer needles, might give patients greater control. Diabetes is sneaky. Female Speaker: I never felt sick. I didn't know I was sick. Dean Edell: And dangerous. Female Speaker: You can lose a limb, you can die of diabetes, you can go blind with it. Dean Edell: So catching it and keeping it under control is the matter of life and death. Everyone knows someone with diabetes, and yet there is a lot of confusion about it. Robert Ratner: Diabetes is an abnormality of metabolism in which the body is unable to store and utilize fuel appropriately. Dean Edell: Our bodies need insulin to feed cells and regulate blood glucose levels. In Type 1 diabetes, the body stops making insulin. The more common, Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn't make enough insulin to regulate blood sugar or becomes insulin-resistant, meaning, it doesn't use insulin efficiently. Whether it's Type 1 or Type 2, elevated blood sugar can feed a host of complications. Thomas Blevins: Damage to the eyes, kidneys and nerves, and even heart. Dean Edell: Being overweight, having a family history, and getting older increase your risk. Robert Ratner: The definitive state for diabetes is a two-hour glucose tolerance test, which is cumbersome, not particularly pleasant for patients. Dean Edell: It involves drawing blood, drinking a syrupy solution and waiting to draw blood a second time. Right now Shirley Liu (ph) doesn't have diabetes, but it runs in her family. That made her a good candidate for the clinical trial of a needle and blood free device that could replace the traditional diabetes test. Robert Ratner: The Scout machine shines a light into the skin and into the layers of the tissue immediately below the skin and reflects the amount of glucose that has been attached to the connective tissue. Shirley Liu: It was very easy. Robert Ratner: It's simply putting the arm down on the machine, waiting for two to three minutes and having the results. Dean Edell: Study show results as accurate as the traditional test. Researchers expect to file for FDA approval before the end of the year. As a Type 1 diabetic, 14-year-old Robbie Mansfield must prick his finger seven times a day to test his glucose level. Robbie Mansfield: I could have no more of a normal life without having to step out every couple of hours to test my blood sugar. Dean Edell: Robbie's wish could eventually come true. Using a technique that tests air pollution, chemists can detect high levels of Methyl Nitrate in the breath as a way of testing blood sugar levels. Pietro Galassetti: We saw that the children who had high blood sugar had very high Methyl Nitrate in their breath, and then as we gradually corrected the blood sugar, the Methyl Nitrate in breath was coming down. Dean Edell: Researchers hope to develop a hand-held breath tester in the next five years to replace a 2,500 needle sticks Robbie needs every year. Debra Lofton has diabetes and its complications. Debra Lofton: Neuropathy in my hands, both my feet, I have Glaucoma in my eyes. I've had three cornea transplants. Dean Edell: Debra must manage her diet and take insulin everyday, and yes, that means more needles, something she dreads. Debra Lofton: I was having to stick myself minimum seven times a day. Dean Edell: This plastic port used for insulin as well as other injectable medications, has taken away the need for so many daily sticks. Debra Lofton: You just take it, one, two, three stick, press the adhesive in place, remove the needle. Thomas Blevins: The needle is inserted, and then as the insulin is injected, the insulin goes right through that tiny little ca
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