In honor of World Diabetes Day (November 14) and its focus on education and prevention, we’re sharing some important information on the disease and how to recognize its symptoms.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that affects how the body uses glucose the main type of sugar in the blood that provides energy. Glucose is the major source of energy needed to fuel the body’s functions. In normal functioning skeletal muscle cells, glucose cannot get inside the cell without help from a substance called insulin.
Insulin is made in the pancreas and the pancreas is located in the upper part of the abdomen.When glucose levels go up in our blood, cells in the pancreas release insulin into the blood to help move the glucose into the cells. There is a delicate balance between the amount of glucose and the amount of insulin in the blood moment by moment.
So what can go wrong? If there is too much glucose in our blood for a long time, the cells stop letting insulin work. This is called insulin resistance. Since glucose cannot get into these cells, it starts to build up in the blood. This leads to a type of diabetes called type II diabetes. Unfortunately, the excess sugar in the blood seeps out of the blood vessels and fills in spaces between the cells in the body. This process creates trouble in these locations and our tissues become diseased.
There is also another type of diabetes called type I. In this disease, a person’s immune system is confused and starts killing the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Without insulin, glucose cannot get into the cells that need it. The result is similar to type II diabetes in that there is too much glucose in the blood. Type I diabetes is usually discovered during childhood. Those affected need to take injections of insulin to make up for the cells that have been killed.
Type II diabetes symptons typically occur slowly and include excessive thirst, frequent urination, constant feeling of hunger, weight loss, fatique, and darkened skin on the neck.
Type I diabetes is usually first found in childhood and the signs occur quickly. Like type II, the symptoms include excessive thirst, frequent urination, constant feeling of hunger, weight loss, and fatique.
There is no known prevention for type I diabetes, but for type II, it is good to lower the amount of sugar that you eat to protect yourself from this disease. Watch your weight because obesity also can result in type II diabetes. Usually adults get this form of diabetes, but more recently it is starting to be seen in obese children, too.
As its name suggests, World Diabetes Day is celebrated across the globe on November 14, and includes public awareness campaigns, free screenings for diabetes and special events. Check out the website for more information.