Diabetes Medication: Can Your Treatment Cause Hepatitis?
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition in which the cells do not get enough sugar and excess glucose circulates in the blood stream. The hormone insulin, produced by the pancreas, is required to move glucose out of the blood into the cells. Diabetes occurs when there are insulin imbalances. A small number of cases are caused by an autoimmune disorder in which the body's immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas, known as the beta cell, that produce insulin. This is known as type 1 diabetes. Onset is abrupt and severe, and usually occurs during childhood or the early adult years. Type 1 diabetics require injections of synthetic insulin to survive.
The majority of diabetes cases, however, occur over time as the body cuts down on its production of insulin while the cells, for causes not completely understood, become resistant to the effects of insulin. This is called type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes usually has an onset in early middle age, although a disturbing trend of younger patients has begun to emerge. More and more people are becoming diabetic at younger and younger ages. The unhealthy American diet is likely to blame. Many of the foods commonly consumed, such as sweets, chips, white bread, pasta, and rice, all cause an abrupt spike in blood sugar. High levels of circulating glucose are not good for the body, so it mounts an immediate response to get the sugar out of the blood and into the cells or to the liver for storage.
Over time, as the body is repeatedly exposed to these sugar spikes, the stress of dealing with them may tax the body to such a point that it can no longer mount an adequate response, and diabetes results. Diabetes is a serious, potentially deadly disease, and controlling blood sugar is paramount. As increasing numbers of people develop diabetes, many of them turn to drugs to control their blood sugar. This is not without risk, as several incidents have shown.
Can Diabetes Drugs Cause Hepatitis?
In 2000, a new drug, Troglitazone (brand names Rezulin and Romozin), hailed as a miracle for diabetes sufferers when it hit the market three years before, was abruptly withdrawn after it turned out that it caused serious liver damage and complications in many patients. Troglitazone belongs to a family of pharmaceuticals known as thiazolidinedones. Two other medications developed from this same family are still on the market today. Neither of these drugs has been associated with liver problems so far, but if you are using either of them, it is recommended that you get regular check-ups. Both have also been associated with increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Taking Avandia, in particular, increases your risk of having a heart attack by over forty percent. Diabetics are already at an increased risk for these complications, so the risks of these drugs are very real.
Are There Safer Options for Treating Diabetes?
There are, other, non-pharmaceutical methods for treating diabetes that are much safer and often considerably safer than taking prescription medications known for their side effects. While treatment for type 1 diabetes will always center on insulin injections, type 2 diabetics have much more leeway in how they treat their diabetes. The easiest, and most effective, way to treat type 2 diabetes is through diet and exercise. It is important for diabetics to space out their meals throughout the day so as to ensure an even release of glucose into the bloodstream. What foods you eat also matter. Eating foods high in fiber, protein, and complex, rather than simple, carbohydrates can help control glucose levels. Finally, exercise is a powerful tool in controlling blood sugar and relieving diabetes symptoms.