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Lilly Supports Research to Determine What a Dog's Nose Knows About People with Diabetes and Severe Hypoglycemia
Date:7/30/2012

iabetes, as over time (approximately five years), people can develop "hypoglycemia unawareness," in which the body loses the ability to sense an impending low blood sugar event.[i] This type of event is usually characterized by tremors, sweating, confusion and irritability, feelings that would normally cause someone with diabetes to check their blood sugar. If left unchecked for too long, dangerously low levels of blood sugar can cause seizures, loss of consciousness and in some cases, death.

"When people who have had diabetes for a number of years lose their ability to sense an oncoming low blood sugar event, the consequences can be severe," said Dr. Hardin. "Considering children under the age of 15 are at greatest risk for developing type 1 diabetes, this 'unawareness' is happening in children who are very young. For a caregiver, this is a constant, everyday fear that doesn't go away."

Currently, it is unclear how the dogs are able to sense hypoglycemia in humans, but some think the dogs are reacting to scents created by chemical changes related to low blood sugar.

The Nose Knows – New Research to Uncover Subtle Changes in Human Chemistry
The ability to smell is based on the number of olfactory cells adapted to receive smell molecules – the more olfactory cells there are, the more acute the sense of smell.[ii] Compared to humans, who have approximately five million olfactory cells, dogs may possess up to 220 million.[iii] That means, depending on the compound being detected, a dog's nose may actually be more than 1,000 times more sensitive than humans.[iv]

For someone with diabetes, the sensitivity of a trained dog's nose can mean peace of mind, especially during the overnight hours, and at its extreme, can be life saving. Lilly Diabetes recently examined this remarkable sense of smell and presented corresponding data at the American Diabetes Association's 72nd (the Association) Scientific Sessions.

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SOURCE Eli Lilly and Company
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