What Is Diabetes?

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes (fancy name: diabetes mellitus) is a common metabolism disorder. The word “metabolism” refers to the way the human body uses the food you eat to produce energy and cause cellular growth. During metabolism, most of the food you eat is broken down into a chemical called “glucose”. Glucose is essentially the type of sugar that is found in our bloodstream–glucose sugars are the main source of fuel in the human body.

As our food is digested, glucose is supposed to make its way into the bloodstream.  Cells use this glucose sugar for energy, but glucose cannot enter the cells without the presence of a hormone called insulin. Insulin makes it possible for the body’s cells to take in glucose for energy.

What Is Insulin?

What Is Diabetes?

Insulin is a hormone produced naturally in the pancreas. After you eat, your pancreas starts creating insulin in order to move glucose from the blood into our cells. This is how insulin is tied directly to our “blood sugar” level–insulin sends glucose into our cells and gets it out of the blood. Insulin lowers blood sugar.

Insulin and Diabetes

A person diagnosed with diabetes has too much glucose in their blood. This is known as hyperglycemia.

There are two reasons for hyperglycemia–either a person’s body doesn’t produce enough insulin (or produces no insulin) or a person’s body cells do not respond to the presence of insulin that the pancreas produces. Either condition will result in a glucose level in the blood that is much too high. Excess blood glucose (blood sugar) will eventually pass through a person’s body in their urine rather than feeding the cells.

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

You’ve probably heard people talk about “type one” and “type two” diabetes–what does this mean?

In type one diabetes, the body produces no insulin at all. In type two diabetes, you simply don’t produce enough insulin, or your body doesn’t recognize the insulin you do produce.

Both of these types of diabetes are “chronic”, meaning persistent and perpetual. Most people with diabetes will deal with it for their entire life, though some patients with diabetes caused by their lifestyle have been able to make small changes and eventually find they no longer have diabetes.

Diabetes Symptoms and Treatment – Diabetes Diet

All forms of diabetes are treatable, but for the most part, a diagnosis of either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes will last a lifetime. Medical insulin became available in 1921, and has been used in treatment of diabetes ever since. Patients who need insulin have regular doses of it for their entire life. Patients with Type 1 diabetes are treated with injectable insulin, dietary restrictions, and exercise.

Patients with Type 2 diabetes require medication treatment in the form of tablets, an exercise regimen, and a special diet. In some cases of Type 2 diabetes, injectible insulin is also a requirement.

Diabetes Complications

When diabetes is not controlled properly with medication or lifestyle changes, diabetes patients have a high risk of developing serious complications. Hypoglycemia, ketoacidosis, and nonketotic hypersosmolar coma are three very serious consequences of diabetes that can result in injury and even death. The long-term complications of untreated diabetes (or simply mismanaged diabetes) are heart disease, damage to the eyes, kidney damange and failure, nerve damage, gangrene on the feet, and other problems, like psychological issues and even erectile dysfunction.

Diabetes in America – Statistics

According to the American Diabetes Association, the following statistics apply to American sufferers of diabetes.

  • Almost 18 million Americans suffer from diagnosed diabetes
  • There are probably 6 million people whose diabetes is undiagnosed
  • There are 57 million “pre-diabetic” people in America
  • There are 186,300 cases of undiagnosed juvenile diabetes
  • 2 million adolescents are “pre-diabetic”
  • Ten percent of American adults have diabetes
  • More men than women have diabetes

Symptoms of Diabetes

So how do you know if you have diabetes? Look for the following symptoms.

Frequent urination

When there is too much glucose in the blood, you urinate much more often. A person with diabetes is experiencing increased urination because their kidneys are taking water from the blood to dilute the high amount of glucose they are siphoning off.

Extreme Thirst

This happens as a way to replace the liquid lost during frequent urination.

Extreme Hunger

Since your cells are not getting the glucose fuel they need, your body will feel extreme hunger. This is your body’s way of finding more fuel.

Weight Gain

Fatigue

Irritability and Mood Changes

This probably happens because of a lack of energy.

Blurred Vision or Change in Vision

Itchy Skin

Numbness or Tingling In Extremities

This is caused by nerve damage due to too much sugar in your body. This is because tiny blood vessels that feed your nerves are damaged by the presence of large sugar molecules.

If you feel like you  may be suffering from symptoms of diabetes, there are simple tests that your doctor can perform. Treating your diabetes with the correct course of medication and lifestyle changes can make your diabetes little more than a nuisance. Catching diabetes before it becomes too extreme is crucial to avoiding the more serious symptoms that diabetes can cause.