What is Diabetes? | Physiology | Biology | FuseSchool

What does diabetes mean to you? Something to do with sugar right? Would you be shocked if I told you that every 6 seconds someone dies from diabetes?

One in 11 adults worldwide has diabetes, with 1 in 2 not being diagnosed. So it is important that we all know what it is, how it can be detected and how we can control it.

Diabetes is a condition where the levels of blood glucose are too high, because the body cannot use it properly. This could be because the pancreas doesn’t produce enough, or any, insulin, or the insulin is not working properly. Insulin helps glucose leave our blood and enter into our bodies cells.

Let’s have a look at this process in a little more detail.

Your body digests carbohydrates, breaking it down into glucose. Your liver also produces glucose. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that allows glucose to enter into our body’s cells. Here it is used to provide energy to undergo our normal life processes, like growth and repair. If you have diabetes, your body cannot make proper use of this glucose and so it builds up in the blood and cannot be used by cells.

There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.

Type 1 is when there is no insulin at all, whereas type 2 is when there is insulin present but either there isn’t enough or it isn’t working properly.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune response, where the body destroys its own insulin-making cells. This type has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle, and currently there is no cure – just daily treatment on insulin injections or pumps. The symptoms of type 1 diabetes are thirst, needing to regularly pass urine, tiredness and weight loss, and can occur very suddenly. Without any insulin, the glucose cannot enter the cells so the cells cannot use it for energy. Therefore, the body has to break down fats to use that for energy instead, and hence weight loss. Whilst type 1 diabetes can appear at any age, it usually appears before the age of 40 and type 1 accounts for most cases of childhood diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes usually appears in people over the age of 40, but it is becoming more common in children and younger people. It accounts for between 85 and 95 percent of all diabetes and is treated with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Medication and / or insulin are also often used. Where the development of type 1 diabetes is often sudden and dramatic, the symptoms for type 2 are much more mild, making it harder to detect. There are some key risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes.

Due to the risk factors, you may not be surprised to hear that lifestyle changes can help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes by achieving a healthy body weight. 30 minutes of exercise a day can reduce your risks of developing type 2 diabetes by 40%.

So now you should know the differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and that by maintaining a healthy lifestyle you can reduce your risk of getting type 2 diabetes.

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