The pancreas, an endocrine gland, produces one of the body’s most important hormones, insulin. Insulin lowers blood sugar levels by allowing cells to accept glucose (sugar) for use as energy. In individuals with diabetes, the pancreas cannot produce insulin. The lack of insulin in the body raises blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia), which can lead to kidney problems, liver problems, vascular disease coma or even death.
Type I Classification
The majority of individuals with Type I diabetes develop the disease as children. Diabetes develops because the lost beta cells in the Islets of Langerhans within the pancreas prohibit insulin production. Individuals with Type I diabetes must be on the lookout for skin disorders, nerve damage in the feet, eye care and maintain good dental health.
Type II Classification
Individuals with Type II diabetes develop the disease through a combination of genetics, poor diet and lack of exercise. The pancreas releases insulin to lower blood sugar levels. Excess fat around the muscles can block the absorption of glucose, making the body insulin-resistant. The glucose remains in the bloodstream, raising blood sugar levels and causing the pancreas to release more insulin. The cycle continues until the body becomes completely immune to the effects of insulin.
Type I Prevention/Solution
Since the beta cells no longer produce insulin, the body must get it from other sources to survive. Insulin cannot be taken orally, as it would be broken down during digestion. Without insulin, the body cannot use glucose for energy; therefore, insulin must be injected into the fat under the skin. Most insulin injections are made from synthetic sources, and a few are made from pigs. Extreme cases can be treated with insulin pumps. Pumps deliver insulin through a catheter placed under the skin.
Type II Prevention/Solution
Type II diabetes develops from insulin resistance. Insulin sensitivity can be restored with modest weight loss; as little as 10 to 15 lbs. can make a difference. Over 90 percent of individuals who lose weight and keep it off do it through a combination of diet and exercise. Until insulin sensitivity is restored, individuals with Type II diabetes may have to take insulin injections.
Diabetics are no more likely to get the common cold and flu than any other individual. Colds raise blood sugar levels and can be dangerous for diabetics; diabetes does not affect the immune system and is not contagious. Diabetes does not create athersclerosis (hardening of the arteries). However, an obese Type II diabetic is at a greater risk of atherosclerosis than the rest of the population.