What is a Diabetes? | Types, Definition, Structure, Function & Facts

What is (Disease) Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that causes a person to have high blood sugar. Over time, high blood sugar can damage organs like the kidneys and heart. Nerve and blood vessel damage can lead to blindness and even amputation of limbs such as toes.

Hyperglycemia is the result of the body not receiving enough insulin or not responding to the insulin the body receives.

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What is Insulin?

Insulin is a hormone produced by an organ called the pancreas. Insulin takes the sugar in our blood (also called glucose) and helps it be absorbed by our cells. Our cells then use glucose as an energy source.

Why is Insulin Important?

When there isn’t enough insulin in the blood, two things happen. First, blood sugar levels rise. As the body continues to eat food, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose and released into the bloodstream to be used for energy. Without insulin, glucose cannot be absorbed and used up by cells. Second, the cells lack energy. Finally, they get their energy from fat.

Type I or Juvenile Diabetes

Type I diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system decides to attack the pancreas and destroy the cells (called beta cells) that make insulin. Doctors don’t know exactly what causes the immune system to do this, but once all the beta cells are destroyed, the pancreas stops producing insulin.

Type I diabetes is often referred to as juvenile diabetes. Indeed, most people are first diagnosed with the disease when they are still young. However, some people develop the disease later in life. In addition, once you have the disease, you will have it for life. There is no remedy.

Type II

Type II diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin for the body or the insulin does not work properly. When insulin doesn’t work properly, it’s called “insulin resistance”.

Type II diabetes is different from type I diabetes. Type II tends to occur in older adults who are overweight. Losing weight, eating a healthier diet, and exercising can all help prevent and slow the onset of type II.

Although type II is associated with being overweight, not all people who are overweight have type II disease and not all people with type II are overweight. Doctors don’t know exactly what causes type II diabetes, but in addition to weight, factors such as race, age, and family history also contribute to an increased risk.

Diabetes Symptoms

Common symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst, frequent urination, weight loss, bad breath, and nausea. Not everyone with diabetes will develop symptoms right away, especially those with type II diabetes.

Living with Diabetes

Although diabetes (especially type I) can be fatal if left untreated, people can live a long and normal life with the disease. The key to living with diabetes is monitoring and controlling your blood sugar levels. Some people with type II disease can manage the disease through exercise and a healthy diet. Others may need medication or insulin injections. Since people with type I diabetes do not produce insulin, they need regular insulin injections.

An Example of Type I Treatment

A person with type I diabetes will often follow this routine every time they have a meal.

Test their Blood Sugar – This is done by pricking their finger and testing the blood with a blood glucose meter.

Count the Carbohydrates in their Meal – They need to know how many carbs they’re consuming to adjust their insulin dosage.

Inject Insulin – They then inject a certain amount of insulin based on the number of carbs they are consuming and their current blood sugar levels.

Interesting Facts about Diabetes

Insulin was discovered by doctors Frederick Banting and John Macleod in 1921. Before that, diabetes was a deadly disease.

The first person to receive an insulin injection was a fourteen-year-old boy in 1922.

Many people can use an insulin pump to deliver insulin automatically. They still need to check their blood sugar and give instructions on how to pump, but they don’t need to get vaccinated all the time.

Macleod and Banting won the 1923 Nobel Prize for their discovery.