Diabetes is a common, incurable endocrine disorder that causes dangerous complications and significantly reduces a person’s life span. Is it worth treating this disease abroad? To begin with hospitals in European countries use the most advanced and innovative diabetic treatments that enable diabetes sufferers to live as near as normal life as possible.
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes develops due to a insulin hormone deficiency. It is produced in beta cells of the islets of Langerhans, which are located in the pancreas.
Insulin is a hormone that "helps" glucose to penetrate from the blood into the cells for further absorption. Consequently, if there is a hormone deficiency, glucose cannot penetrate into the cell and remains in the blood. Its level in the plasma increases and this has a negative effect on the functioning of all organs and systems of the human body.
Characteristics of type 1 diabetes:
- Type 1 diabetes accounts for only 15% of all cases of diabetes.
- It is supposed that the disease develops due to the fact that the person’s own immune systems destroys cells, which synthesise insulin.
- The disease mostly affects young people.
- The disease develops suddenly with a rapid weight loss against a background of increased appetite and overeating. The condition manifests itself by a significant increase in daily fluid consumption and increased diuresis (volume of urination).
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes develops due to the disorders of receptor sensitivity to insulin. To put it simply, this hormone is produced in normal or even increased amounts, but cells “do not recognise” it. Consequently, blood glucose level increases.
Characteristics of type 2 diabetes:
- The main cause of the development of type 2 diabetes is obesity.
- The condition mostly affects elderly or middle-aged people.
- The disease develops gradually and can be diagnosed during the initial stages only by chance.
- Type 2 diabetes is the most common type; and accounts for 85% of all cases of this condition.
Consequences of diabetes
Theoretically, if the patient with diabetes receives high quality treatment and follows all recommendations of an experienced and highly qualified endocrinologist, he/she can have the same quality of life and life span as a compared to a healthy person has. The situation differs significantly when a patient not always receive an appropriate treatment, does not stick to a diet and does not follow the specialist’s recommendations.
The main reason for the patient's low adherence to the treatment is that diabetes does not impair the quality of life during the initial stage of its development. The condition is not accompanied by any intense pain and does not limit a person’s daily activities. It takes years before patient’s internal organs cease their proper functions. Then only do patient start treatment, but therapy fails to restore damaged nerves and vessels. It can only slow down the progression of further complications.
Late (chronic) complications of diabetes are the most dangerous. They develop in all patients, who do not receive high quality treatment:
- Polyneuropathy - nerve damage
- Microangiopathy and macroangiopathy - damage to small and large vessels
- Nephropathy – kidney failure
- Retinopathy – a gradual development of blindness due to the dystrophic processes in the retina
- Diabetic foot - a frequent cause of leg amputation
- Arthropathy - joint damage
- Encephalopathy - impaired brain function
These are only some of the most common complications. In fact, there are much more of them. The main causes of death for patients with diabetes are infarctions and strokes that develop as a result of the irreversible damage to blood vessels and their clotting.
Treatment of type 1 diabetes
The treatment of type 1 diabetes is based on the compensation of carbohydrate metabolism by injecting insulin. The pancreas does not produce sufficient amounts of insulin and therefore a person has to take daily injections.
The main treatment objectives are:
- Maintenance of a normal blood glucose level
- Elimination of symptoms
- Prevention of early complications (diabetic coma)
- Delayed development of late complications
The therapy involves not only the use of insulin drugs, but also a diet, moderate physical activities. It is important to train patients on how to manage the disease on their own, to provide them with information on diabetes and its treatments.
As complications progress, additional treatments may be required. Various drugs, procedures and medical manipulations can be used to slow down the development of the condition. The aim is to compensate for the insufficient functioning of the internal organs and to normalise the quality of the patient’s life and increase his/her life expectancy.
Treatment of type 2 diabetes
The treatment of type 2 diabetes is mostly based on the following:
- Diet to lose weight and decrease blood glucose level
- Physical activities
- Use of anti-diabetic drugs
Due to the increased insulin secretion, pancreatic cells can eventually deplete. These are responsible for the production of the insulin hormone. Therefore, even patients with type 2 diabetes can become insulin-dependent. In such a case, the patient needs not only anti-diabetic drugs, but also insulin injections.
There are also radical treatment methods. Metabolic surgery provides good results. The surgery aims to reduce the size of the stomach or to stop the delivery of pancreatic juice to the food lump in order to disrupt the digestion of food. This leads to a gradual weight loss after surgery, which significantly improves carbohydrate metabolism.
Diabetes treatment in Germany
Doctors generally have serious difficulties treating diabetes. There is no single treatment regimen that would be suitable for everyone. The treatment should be customised on the basis of:
- Diabetes type
- Degree of carbohydrate metabolism compensation
- Person’s lifestyle
- Patient’s age, physical abilities and self-service ability
- Certain complications of diabetes
German doctors have succeeded in treating both type 1 and 2 diabetes. Therefore, people from all over the world come to this European country to receive top-class medical care.
Advantages of diabetes treatment abroad
- The use of the latest treatments. There is a gradual withdrawal from the discomfort of daily insulin injections. Insulin pumps are more and more popular in Germany, but are not available in some countries. They serve to gradually release small doses of the hormone into the blood automatically.
- The high quality training of patients on how to live with diabetes. After the treatment the patient not only improves their health, but also acquire all necessary knowledge to manage the disease in the future.
- Unlike developing countries, Germany uses only modern and safe anti-diabetic drugs. Due attention is paid not only to the therapy effectiveness, but also to its tolerance.
- Germany provides high quality treatment for diabetic complications. If possible, they are treated conservatively. If necessary, surgical treatment may be required in the form of an organ transplantation.
- Diagnostic capabilities. The complications of diabetes are much easier to treat in the early stages. German hospitals use high quality, high-tech, accurate diagnostic methods, which detect any pathological processes at the very beginning of their development.
Germany offers numerous innovative diabetes treatments. We will focus on the main medical advances of recent years in the field of endocrinology.
Transplantation of islets of Langerhans. The cells that synthesize insulin are transplanted to a person from a donor. They remain in the liver. The number of cells gradually increases. 58% of patients can completely eliminate the need for insulin injections after one year of surgery. However, transplant rejection is still a problem. It should be suppressed by immunosuppressive drugs.
Implantable bioartificial pancreas. It was transplanted in Germany for the first time in Dresden, in 2012. Pancreatic islet cells are supplied with a special coating, which protects them from destruction by immune cells. The clinical trials of this method of treatment for type 1 diabetes have not stopped since 2014.
Stem cell therapy. Stem cells are obtained from the patient’s bone marrow. They are differentiated in laboratory to beta cells that synthesize insulin. Then they are injected into the pancreatic artery or calf muscles. The treatment method can achieve a long-term remission, which can last for several years in some patients.
DNA vaccination for diabetes. BHT-3021 vaccine can be used in type 1 diabetes at the initial stage. It prevents the cytotoxic effect of T-killers (immune cells) and protects cells that synthesize insulin from destruction. This is a new treatment that is still undergoing clinical trials. Therefore, long-term results of this therapy have not yet been proved.
Other innovations in the treatment of diabetes:
- Insulin patches
- Laser sensors for use at home; these determine blood glucose level without a puncture in the finger
- Systems for continuous monitoring of blood glucose concentration
- New insulin for inhalation
- New group of anti-diabetic drugs -incretin mimetics
Germany offers all the above-mentioned and many other methods. It is here that you can get the highest quality medical services involving the use of the latest diagnostic and treatment methods for diabetes, which have never been heard of even most countries.
How to choose a hospital?
It is better to receive treatment at a reputable medical centre, or at a University hospitals where research and innovative medicine is paramount in the field of endocrinology.
The following German medical institutions provide qualitative treatment of diabetes mellitus:
- Goethe University Hospital. It is located in the city of Frankfurt am Main. It is part of the Goethe University in Frankfurt. It has 32 specialised departments, including the Department of Endocrinology.
- University Hospital Duesseldorf. The hospital offers advanced treatments in the field of endocrinology.
- Charite University Hospital Berlin. The Department of Endocrinology and Metabolic Disorders focuses especially on metabolic disorders.
- Gummersbach District Hospital of the Klinikum Oberberg. Over 22 000 inpatients are treated here. The hospital has a Department of Therapy, which provides conservative treatment for diabetes.
Use our international online platform bookinghealth.com to select a suitable hospital with the best price, geographic location and quality of medical care. If you need assistance, don't hesitate to send us a request. Our experiences service managers will be happy to provide you with the best medical institution for diabetes treatment in no time.
Choose treatment abroad and you will for sure get the best results!
Author: Dr. Nadezhda Ivanisova