Local News

New Medical Advances Take Guesswork Out Of Diabetes Treatment

Posted January 13, 2005

— In the old days, many diabetics had to do a lot of guessing about when they needed an insulin dose and how much they needed. But new designer insulins and new equipment take the guesswork out of staying healthy.

Every meal for Lyndsey Beutin involves decisions not just about what to eat, but how much insulin she will need.

"The pump is just connected to me. I wear it all over, but right now, it's on my back," she said.

Four years ago, Lyndsey learned she had Type 1 diabetes, an insulin deficiency that keeps her body from absorbing blood sugar. She used to inject insulin with a syringe. Now, a pager-sized pump delivers the insulin she needs throughout the day and before meals.

"The pump really makes eating a lot more flexible," Beutin said.

However, health experts claim insulin pumps are not for everybody.

"Insulin pumps are very expensive, typically about $7,000 for the initial pump and the training and education to learn how to use it," said Duke endocrinologist Dr. Susan Spratt.

Spratt supplies many of her patients with insulin pens. Several doses are stored inside. One can dial up the number of units needed and inject. Spratt also recommends several designer insulins. Some provide a day's worth of insulin in one shot, while others are absorbed quickly to cover an unplanned meal.

Glucose monitors are getting more high-tech. Some use an infrared beam to send results to an insulin pump. Beutin does not have the high-tech equipment, but she said she is happy with what she has got.

"[It] really makes life a whole lot easier," she said.

Spratt believes the day is coming soon when insulin dependent diabetics can get glucose monitors that show the rise and fall in blood sugar in real time, which will take a lot of guesswork out of keeping the right amount of insulin in the blood.


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