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Thursday, November 14

Diabetes Explained

Everyone has heard of diabetes but many don’t actually know exactly what diabetes is. Diabetes is a condition where the amount of glucose in your blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly. It prevents the body from properly using energy from food and occurs when the pancreas does not produce insulin, or when the pancreas produces insulin, but it is resisted by the body.

  • Insulin is the hormone produced by the pancreas that allows glucose to enter the body’s cells, where it is used as fuel for energy so we can work, play and generally live our lives. It is vital for life.
  • Glucose comes from digesting carbohydrate and is also produced by the liver.
  • If you have diabetes, your body cannot make proper use of this glucose so it builds up in the blood and can’t be used as fuel.

When we eat food, it is broken down in glucose or sugar. Yes, we do need some glucose to help regulate our metabolism and give you energy. During digestion, glucose moves through the body through the bloodstream to feed your cells. To be able to transfer the blood sugar into the cells, your body needs insulin, which is made by the pancreas and released into the bloodstream.

There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes develops when glucose can’t enter the body’s cells to be used as fuel. This happens when either:

  • There is no insulin to unlock the cells (Type 1) - Type 1 diabetes develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body have been destroyed and the body is unable to produce any insulin.
  • There is not enough insulin or the insulin is there but not working properly (Type 2) - Type 2 diabetes develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body are unable to produce enough insulin, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly (known as insulin resistance).

There are other types of diabetes which affect everyone from adults to babies. There are:

  • Gestational diabetes - it is a type of diabetes that affects pregnant women, usually during the second or third trimester. Women with gestational diabetes don’t have diabetes before their pregnancy, and after giving birth it usually goes away.
  • Maturity onset diabetes of the young (MODY) – it is a rare form of diabetes which is different from both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and runs strongly in families. It’s caused by a mutation in a single gene. If a parent has this gene mutation, any child they have, has a 50 per cent chance of inheriting it from them.
  • Neonatal diabetes – it is a form of diabetes that is diagnosed under the age of six months. It’s a different type of diabetes than the more common Type 1 diabetes as it’s not an autoimmune condition
  • Wolfram Syndrome - it is a rare genetic disorder which is also known as DIDMOAD syndrome after its four most common features (Diabetes Insipidus, Diabetes Mellitus, Optic Atrophy and Deafness).

If you are worried about having diabetes please consult with your doctor, or contact your health insurance provider.