Need Help

Submit your question to our team of health care professionals.

Current Question

See what's on the mind of the community right now.

Meet the Team

Learn more about our world-renowned team.

CWD Answers Archives

Review the entire archive according to the date it was posted.

March 10, 2001

Daily Care

Question from Germany:

I have been struggling with type 1 diabetes for more than 25 years. Three years ago, I had laser therapy on both eyes, fortunately with great success. My doctor has some concern about my kidneys because I have protein in my urine and an elevated creatinine. My current problem is that, since laser therapy I have been pretty well controlled with hemoglobin A1c levels between 6.5 and 7.7%. However, for the last six months, I have had more and more hypoglycemic reactions despite continuously reducing my insulin doses. Originally, I was injecting 40-50 U per day, now I have reduced to 30 or so! Have I started to produce insulin again?


From: DTeam Staff

It is extremely unlikely that you have started to produce insulin again. Your insulin requirements could be decreasing for a few reasons:

Bringing glucose levels under tighter control after they have not been well-controlled decreases what we call “glucose toxicity” resulting in the insulin being more effective in decreasing glucose. However, since it sounds as if your glucose control has been quite good for the last three years, and the increasing hypoglycemia has just in the last six months, this is not likely the cause in your case.
Worsening kidney function, as indicated by an increasing level of creatinine in the blood, can cause decreased insulin requirements, mainly because the insulin is eliminated more slowly by the kidneys, so “hangs around” longer. This may be what is happening with you, since you say your creatinine is abnormal and you are losing protein in the urine. This means that you should follow closely with your diabetes care team, have blood and urine tests done every few months, and try to keep your glucose controlled the best you can (as you are doing).
People with type 1 diabetes sometimes develop adrenal insufficiency (Addison’s disease), which means that the adrenal glands stop making enough cortisol. This is a rare condition, but can lead to decreased insulin requirements, and can be life threatening. It is easily treated with cortisol-type pills (usually hydrocortisone or prednisone). This is tested for by blood tests, including sodium and potassium levels which you have likely had done anyway, and cortisol levels, sometimes done before and after an injection of Cosyntropin. Your doctor should be able to tell you whether you should have further testing done to look for this condition.