What Is Diabetes?
People who have diabetes either do not make insulin or the insulin they make does not work the way it should. This leads to a high level of glucose in the blood. Insulin is a substance which is made in the pancreas and released into the blood stream after you eat a meal. The pancreas is an organ in the upper abdomen which contains specialized cells which make insulin and release it into the blood. Insulin is necessary to help get the food you eat into the body cells so that it can be used as energy. In order for food to be used as energy, it is changed in the body to glucose (sugar). When the food is changed to glucose, it is carried by the blood to the various body cells. For the glucose to get into these cells, insulin must be present in the blood. Insulin acts as a key to unlock the cell and push the glucose inside where it may be used for energy. Insulin is also needed for extra glucose to be stored as glycogen (stored sugar) in the liver where it can be used for energy at a later time. Because it causes sugar to go into the cells, insulin lowers the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood.
Types of Diabetes
There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 usually has its onset in people under the age of thirty and is due to a severe lack of insulin production in the pancreas. People with insulin dependent diabetes (Type 1) have to be treated with insulin shots. Type 2 diabetes, in contrast, usually occurs in older people and can often be treated with diet and exercise or with an oral agent. Most people with Type 2 diabetes are overweight, and their diabetes can be treated by restricting calories. Some people with Type 2 diabetes must be treated with insulin.
What are the signs and symptoms of diabetes? Common signs and symptoms include:
• excessive thirst
• frequent urination
• excessive hunger
• weight loss
• changes in vision
• slow-healing cuts or infections
• persistent itching of the skin
How is diabetes discovered?
Your doctor can make the diagnosis of diabetes by finding sugar in your urine and an elevated level of sugar in your blood.
What causes diabetes?
The exact cause of diabetes is unknown. It often tends to run in families, and you may inherit some susceptibility to it. There is nothing that you did or did not do that could have caused your diabetes. If you are predisposed to diabetes, certain stresses, strains and environmental hazards, such as obesity, infection, injury, pregnancy and surgery, can hasten the onset or appearance of the diabetes. Diabetes is not contagious.
Is there a cure for diabetes?
Diabetes cannot be cured but it can be controlled. However the treatment and management of diabetes varies from person to person and your doctor must decide what form of treatment is best for you. Patients with Type 1 diabetes must take insulin and follow a diet. People with Type 2 diabetes are often be treated with only diet and exercise. They may also need treatment with oral agents and/or insulin. Your doctor will decide which type of therapy is best for you. Whatever the plan of therapy, you must achieve a balance of diet, medication, and exercise.