Diabetes affects almost 26 million people in the United States - a whopping 8.3% of the national population - so chances are you’ve known someone affected by the disease. Whether you personally have diabetes, care for someone with diabetes, or just want to stay informed, read on to get quick, important and potentially life-saving information on diabetes.
Information on Diabetes #1
Let’s imagine taking a bite of a chocolate bar, tracing the path of sugar all the way to its endpoint inside your cells. Digestion begins to occur in the stomach, and by the time the chocolate reaches the small intestine, the bite has broken down into millions of tiny glucose molecules. These sugar molecules pass through the walls of the small intestine and enter the bloodstream. The increase in blood glucose levels signals the pancreas to release insulin into the general circulation. Together, the insulin and glucose travel through the blood until they enter body tissues. Insulin then “unlocks” a glucose-specific “door” in the cell membrane, and glucose can enter. Once inside, glucose is converted to energy, which fuels a host of cellular processes that keep us alive and well.
Information on Diabetes #2
Type 1 & Type 2 Diabetes
In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas has lost its beta cells, which are the specific cells that produce insulin. As a result, glucose is essentially locked out of cells, and the concentration of glucose in the blood rises. This elevated blood sugar level causes the three classic symptoms that call for a diabetes diagnosis: frequent urination, increased hunger, and increased thirst. Because insulin is simply nowhere to be found, glucose levels rise quickly, and the onset of symptoms is usually very rapid. In addition, type 1 diabetes is sometimes referred to as juvenile diabetes because the majority of diagnoses occur in children.
Similar to type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes is characterized by an inability of glucose to enter body cells and, concurrently, a high level of glucose in the blood. However, if we continue with the lock and key metaphor, the problem in this type of diabetes is with the lock, whereas type 1 diabetes patients do not produce the key.
All over the surface of cells there are proteins called insulin receptors. Insulin sticks to these receptors, and this bonding signals the cell to open glucose channels. In type 2 diabetes, these receptors are down regulated, meaning that fewer receptors than normal are presented to the cell surface. This down regulation results from overstimulation of the receptors by insulin, as the chemical can be toxic in large amounts. So how does this overstimulation occur? Prolonged, elevated amounts of high blood sugar constantly signal the pancreas to unload its insulin into the bloodstream.
This constant blood sugar surge occurs primarily as a direct result of overeating, which is why this diagnosis is primarily found in obese adults. Because the down regulation of insulin receptors is a gradual process, the three classic symptoms may be slower to develop and may not show up at all. Often, the diagnosis will be made after the affected person comes into the hospital experiencing a diabetic emergency.
Information on Diabetes #3
Controlling Your Blood Sugar
Patients suffering from diabetes need to frequently measure their blood glucose levels to make sugar that they are neither too high nor too low. There are two types of glucose levels that need to be considered: fasting glucose and postprandial glucose. Fasting glucose refers to glucose levels after 8-12 of not eating: for example, the level recorded when you first wake up. Postprandial glucose levels are those taken after eating.
There are a variety of different meters available for glucose testing. The process usually includes sticking the side of a finger with a small, sterile needle to produce a drop of blood. The blood is placed on a strip that is connected to a meter, which will then print out a reading of your glucose level. For fasting glucose, the target range is 70 – 130mg/dL, and the postprandial target is less than 180mg/dL, according to the American Diabetes Association.
In terms of raising blood sugar, the answer is quite simple: eat or drink something small and sweet (like a glass of fruit juice or a couple of pieces of candy). Lowering blood sugar is a little trickier. For type 1 diabetics, regular injections of insulin are required, as the body produces none. This can be accomplished by an insulin pump that is implanted into the body or by various hypodermic needle solutions. For type 2 diabetics, the solution usually involves diet and exercise. Decreasing sugar intake lowers the influx of sugar into the bloodstream, and exercise facilitates the uptake of glucose by cells, thus speeding the exit of sugar from the blood.
Information on Diabetes #4
Hypoglycemia and Hyperglycemia
A deviation from target blood sugar levels may result in one of two complications: either hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia. The short video below explains the difference between the two as well as the symptoms for each.
These conditions may result from unexpected deviations from your daily plans: eating or exercising more or less than you expected, or having stress from being sick or other personal problems. If you are a type 1 diabetic, these emergenices may result from either too high or too low a dose of insulin (hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia, respectively). Regardless, both conditions are severe and medical attention should be sought immediately during and after for treatment and future prevention.
More Information on Diabetes
Adequate and visible information on diabetes, as with any other disease, has always been the best way to promote awareness and even foster new research. At healtheo360, we are very sympathetic to diabetes and have put out quite a bit of content related to the disease. Here is some more information on diabetes:
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