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What Are the Treatments for Metabolic Disorders?

By Nicole Etolen
Updated May 17, 2024
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A metabolic disorder occurs when the processes within the body responsible for digestion are interrupted by an overabundance or lack of some chemical required to ensure proper functioning. Diabetes is the most common metabolic disorder, but there are thousands of disorders caused by a chemical or enzyme imbalance. Treatments for metabolic disorders depend on the type of disorder and its overall effect on the patient.

The pancreas plays a large role in several disorders, especially diabetes. Treatments for metabolic disorders caused by problems with this organ usually involve regulating the body’s insulin levels. This may include daily injections for those with type 1 diabetes, in which the pancreas stops making insulin altogether. Those with type 2 diabetes still make the hormone, but their body doesn’t is unable to use it properly. Several medications are available to help regulate blood sugar.

In many cases, treatments for metabolic disorders focus on managing the disease to prevent complications from arising. For some patients, proper nutrition and well-timed meals may be all it takes to keep the disease under control. If the disorder is caused by an inability to process certain vitamins, supplements may help keep symptoms at bay. A certified nutritionist can work with the patient’s doctor to help draft a nutrition plan that meets all of the patient’s needs.

Other treatments for metabolic disorders aim to manage the symptoms and complications that have already occurred. Diabetes, for example, can be very damaging to the peripheral nerves. Physical therapy and pain management may be required to help the patient maintain the highest possible quality of life. Surgery to repair the damage may be required in severe cases.

Patients undergoing treatments for metabolic disorders often require constant monitoring and physical check-ups to monitor the progressions of their diseases and the effectiveness of medications. Tests may include blood sugar screenings, echocardiograms to monitor heart function, or vision tests in those with disorders that can affect eyesight. Different disorders require different tests; patients' physician decide which are necessary on a case-by-case basis.

When a patient’s metabolic disorder is not properly managed, life-threatening complications can arise. Keeping the patient alive and bringing the metabolic chemicals back into balance is the main objective during an emergency situation. This may require intravenous fluids, medication, and, in severe cases, respiratory support to keep patients breathing. Once the imbalance is corrected, the patient’s physician will attempt to determine the cause and adjust the treatment protocol accordingly.

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Discussion Comments

By anon261738 — On Apr 17, 2012

Are lab tests for metabolic syndrome with hypothyroid, obesity and hypertension advised?

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