Diabetes is a disease in which the individual’s body is unable to convert glucose (sugar) to energy. Every cell in our body needs energy to function.
The food that we eat is digested in the stomach and intestines. Among the products of digestion is glucose. Glucose is then absorbed into the bloodstream and distributed throughout the cells in the body.
The pancreas (a gland behind the stomach) responds when there is lots of sugar in the blood by producing a hormone called insulin.
Insulin is needed to help transfer the sugar from the blood to the cells where it is converted to energy.
With diabetes, insulin is no longer produced in sufficient amounts by the pancreas or the insulin produced is not working properly.
Since glucose is not converted to energy, it accumulates in the blood and individuals with high blood sugar will have the following symptoms:
- Polyuria – frequent urination
- Polydipsia – excessive thirst
- Polyphagia – excessive hunger, large intake of food
- Feeling very tired
- Wounds that heal slowly
- Weight loss
- Blurred vision
The two main types of diabetes are:
- Type 1 or insulin-dependent diabetes (juvenile diabetes) which generally affects children, teenagers and young adults and daily insulin injections are needed.
- Type 2 or non-insulin dependent diabetes (adult-onset diabetes) which generally affects people over the age of 45 years and is treated by positive lifestyle changes like eating healthy and exercising regularly. Meds and insulin injections are occasionally necessary.
The second type is the more prevalent form of diabetes.