Role of Oxygen in Diabetes

Importance of Oxygen for people with Diabetes

By Scott Ridl

Once your body becomes resistant to insulin, or is unable to produce insulin, causing your blood sugar level to spike, you become susceptible to another set of medical issues. You might start to lose your eyesight, and you can start to develop sores on your feet. These sores are caused by tissue damage, and can even lead to the need for amputation.

You might already have diabetes that you’ve had since you were young. Type 1 diabetes often shows up when you’re very young, but it more rare than Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes will usually develop after the age of 40, and will usually progress, unless major life style changes are made. There’s a chance you can make sure it doesn’t progress as quickly if you start eating healthier.

The progression can be dangerous and lead to the need for insulin and other forms of medication to prevent complications, such as eyesight loss and sores. Along with a lifestyle change, monitored exercise and close watch from a physician, the additional use of oxygen therapy can help a great deal to prevent serious complications from diabetes.

For those who need oxygen therapy who also have diabetes, it might feel like you have a heavier load, especially if you were at a larger risk for developing sores, and if you have circulation problems. Using oxygen therapy will help over time, since additional oxygen will be distributed throughout the blood vessels of the body, and reach your extremities, where people with diabetes often have the most problems. Oxygen can help a great deal with this issue. As long as you have the battery power, having enough oxygen will take away a lot of the added hassle of needing to use oxygen therapy. Always follow your doctor’s advice when it comes to oxygen therapy.

Oxygen may improve vision worsened by diabetes

By John Lazarou

Oxygen delivered to the body may improve poor vision caused by diabetic macular edema, fluid buildup in the part of the eye responsible for central vision, according to a pilot study by scientists at Johns Hopkins and the National Eye Institute.

In a study of five diabetic patients with persistent macular edema, breathing supplemental oxygen for three months reduced fluid buildup and swelling in the macula and, in some cases, improved visual acuity. Researchers think the therapy could be used in conjunction with laser treatments that also improve oxygenation in the retina to provide long-term stability in these patients.

“The results were really dramatic,” says Peter A. Campochiaro, M.D., senior author of the study and a professor of ophthalmology and neuroscience at Hopkins’ Wilmer Eye Institute.

For the study, published in a recent issue of the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, the researchers studied nine eyes of three men and two women, ages 52 to 69, who had type 2 diabetes for an average of nine years. All patients had received at least one laser eye treatment. Despite an average of 2.7 treatments per eye, all eyes except one had persistent edema.

Patients were given oxygen continuously every day for three months. After three months, excess thickness of the macula was reduced by an average of 43 percent in all nine eyes. Excess thickness of the fovea, the part of the eye responsible for the sharpest vision, was reduced by 42 percent, and macular volume dropped by 54 percent. In addition, three eyes improved in visual acuity, with the ability to see two lines higher on a standard eye chart.

Diabetic macular edema affects up to 10 percent of all patients with diabetes. It is caused when high blood sugar, through a cascade of events, causes damage in normal retinal blood vessels and a decrease in the supply of oxygen and nutrients. Campochiaro and Quan Dong Nguyen, M.D., the principal investigator on the study, hypothesize that the retina, when faced with a decrease in oxygen, releases vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and other substances that cause retinal blood vessels to become leaky and ultimately stimulate the growth of new blood vessels. The leakage of fluid into the macula causes it to become thickened and results in vision loss.

Supplemental oxygen reduces production of VEGF and similar proteins, which in turn reduces the amount of leaking in retinal vessels and lessens the severity of macular edema. The treatment could reduce the thickness of the retina before laser treatment, making the laser more effective and more likely to maintain stability without supplemental oxygen. Alternately, supplemental oxygen could be combined with newer treatments that directly target VEGF.

The study was supported by the National Eye Institute. Coauthors were Quan Dong Nguyen, Syed Mahmood Shah, Elizabeth Van Anden and Jennifer U. Sung of Hopkins, and Susan Vitale of the National Eye Institute.

Is oxygen really the key to insulin resistance?

By Benedict Jephcote

Oxygen is key to life but could it also be a key factor in insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes?

We take a look at the evidence behind this idea and also which methods could use oxygen towards our advantage in tackling insulin resistance.

Some research studies appear to show quite conclusively that restricting oxygen intake does indeed result in increased insulin resistance.

A study carried out by researchers from the University of Southampton and University College London, published in 2014, investigated the effects of low oxygen levels on insulin resistance by taking adults up Mount Everest.

The researchers found that as the participants reached higher altitudes, and were thus exposed to low levels of oxygen to breathe, they developed insulin resistance.

By contrast, the opposite effect has also been observed. Researchers from the University of Adelaide tested the effects by exposing people with type 2 diabetes to a total of six periods of 90 minutes of hyperbaric oxygen therapy over a five-week period.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves spending time in a pressurised diving chamber containing 100% oxygen. The technique resulted in a dramatic 40% improvement in insulin sensitivity, an effect that would usually require a 13% loss of body weight. It seems apparent from this that the more oxygen we get, the better insulin sensitivity we have.

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