what is diabetes?
(NOTE: We are not physicians. This page is for education only. Always follow your advice from your physicians.)
Type 1 Diabetes is a serious medical condition that involves the pancreas and insulin production. Type 1 Diabetes, is also known as Juvenile Diabetes or Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus. Type 2 Diabetes is also known as Adult Onset Diabetes or Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus. 16 million Americans have Diabetes – approximately 1 million have Type 1 and 15 million have Type 2. (Actually only about 8 million individuals are diagnosed with Type 2, about 7 million are walking around with it and NOT diagnosed).
Type 1 is an autoimmune disease resulting in the destruction of the pancreatic cells – the ones that produce insulin, the beta cells. These cells are destroyed by the body's immune system, thus, causing the pancreas to produce little or no insulin.
What happens in a normal system, one without diabetes:
1. The food we eat breaks down into sugar. (This is the main fuel for the body.)
2. The sugar enters the bloodstream and the blood sugar level rises.
3. Our body sends a signal to the pancreas to address the increased blood sugar.
4. The pancreas produces insulin and it is sent to the bloodstream
5. Insulin helps lower the blood sugar levels by letting sugar into the cells.
6. The blood sugar levels fall.
7. The body cells absorb the sugar as fuel.
What If this system doesn't work?
In an individual with diabetes, this normal cycle will not work. The sugar made by the body does not enter or has a hard time entering the cells. This sugar begins to build up in the bloodstream. This occurs from the lack of insulin, or the inefficient distribution of insulin.
What are the causes of Diabetes?
If you have a parent, grandparent, brother, or sister, or even a cousin who has diabetes, you have a greater chance of developing diabetes.
There is approximately a 5% risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes if your mother, father, or sibling has it.
There is a higher risk (up to 50%) of developing Type 2 Diabetes if your parent or siblings have Type 2 diabetes and you are overweight.
Other Factors Can Cause Or Trigger Diabetes. These include:
Age: As people age, their bodies may have fewer insulin-producing beta cells.
Infection or Virus: Certain viruses may destroy beta cells in susceptible people.
Faulty immune system: Scientists now believe that there is not one cause of diabetes, but multiple factors that may trigger the immune system to destroy beta cells.
Physical trauma: An accident or injury may destroy the pancreas, where insulin is normally produced.
Drugs: Drugs prescribed for another condition may unmask diabetes.
Stress: Hormones released during periods of stress may block the effect of insulin.
Pregnancy: Hormones produced during pregnancy may block the effect of insulin.
MANAGEMENT AND TREATMENT
Recognizing Symptoms helps with the management and treatment of diabetes.
Hyperglycemia is a condition characterized by high blood sugar levels.
Hypoglycemia occurs when the low blood sugars levels.
RECOGNIZING EARLY SYMPTOMS The symptoms of diabetes or hyperglycemia often are subtle in the beginning stages, but here are some obvious symptoms to lead one to test for diabetes at any age.
Hyperglycemia 1. Unusual thirst 2. Passing more urine than normal 3. Wounds that heal slowly 4. Unusual fatigue 5. Breath that smelled acidly or fruity 6. Prone to infections 7. Weight loss other then a restriction of food 8. Yeast infections 9. Lethargic Hypoglycemia 1. Headaches 2. Sudden fatigue 3. Irritability 4. Crying spells 5. Feeling of faintness 6. Sudden hunger 7. Dizziness 8. Cold Sweats 9. Shakiness
Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas. Insulin acts as a host to open the door of the cells so glucose may enter. If the glucose is able to get into the muscle cell, it can be combined with oxygen to create energy, with the waste products of carbon dioxide and water remaining. If no energy is needed, then the glucose may be converted to glycogen, which is a storage form of glucose and capable of being changed back to glucose when energy is needed. If no energy is needed and the glycogen's are full, the glucose will end up in a fat cell where it is converted to triglycerides, the storage fat. At times this may happen in the liver and the resulting fats are poured into the blood stream causing or creating oxygen problems. Individuals with Diabetes have this problem. When the door to the cells, becomes insulin resistant and the hormones cannot get in to get the job done, glucose begins to back up in the blood(the body tries to extract it through the urine). This, makes the individual very thirsty, as the body tries to flush the dangerous ingredients out through the kidneys.
UNDERSTANDING HOW STRESS AFFECTS SUGARS
There is a correlation between stress and diabetes. Stress causes the release of hormones that can become very harmful for people with diabetes. It inhibits insulin secretion and increases the production of glucose by the liver from glycogen reserves. There are many types of stress factors associated with our environment, and all directly affect the adrenals...our stress glands. Some examples are infection, pain, overexertion, burns, fractures, business problems, domestic disagreements, and drugs. Prolonged stress can lead to Hypoadrenocorticism, a condition characterized by low functioning of the adrenal glands, similar to hypoglycemia. Or stress can lead to severe infection and cause the body to go into diabetic ketoacidosis and coma. Understanding stress and applying good heath can help in the aid of healing and RECOVERY!
Elements of intensive management and control in the DCCT (Diabetes Control & Complications Trial):
· Testing blood sugars level four or more times a day
· Four daily insulin injections or use of insulin pump
· Adjustments in insulin doses according to food intake and exercise
· A diet and exercise plan
· Regular visits to a health care team consisting of: physician, nurse educator, dietitian, and behavioral therapist
Questions and Answers for Type 1 Diabetes--
Why can't I take insulin by mouth?
Insulin is a protein. If you swallow it, it is digested as smaller particles that are no longer insulin.
My friend takes pills for diabetes. Why can't I?
The pills for diabetes you've probably heard about work by signaling the beta cells in the pancreas to make more insulin (see Chapter 1), and by helping insulin work better. Your beta cells have been destroyed and your body is producing no insulin at all, so the pills can't help you. Research is being conducted to find alternative ways to give insulin.
What if I just ignore my diabetes?
You'll probably feel tired, you'll be thirsty, and you'll be running to the bathroom a lot. If you get seriously out of balance and ignore these symptoms for several days, you could face the danger of a diabetic coma.
What is Juvenile Diabetes?
Juvenile Diabetes and Brittle Diabetes are other names for Type I or Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM). In this handbook, IDDM and Type I diabetes are used interchangeably. Some people refer to this type of diabetes as " juvenile" because people with Type I diabetes are usually young at the time of diagnosis.
What is Brittle Diabetes?
The term "brittle" suggests that this type of diabetes is difficult to control, but when you follow a control regimen designed just for you, and learn to help in your own care, this term will probably not apply.