Briana Gavin, freshman
The month of November is diabetes awareness month so why not take a moment and learn more about diabetes? Diabetes mellitus comes in two main forms, type 1 and type 2 and is characterized by high blood glucose levels1. Type 1 is defined as a condition where the pancreas produces little to no insulin. Type 2, the more common form of diabetes, is where the amount of insulin produced does not meet the amount needed to perform the necessary functions; also referred to as insulin resistance.
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that controls the amount of glucose the liver produces and how much is released into the blood stream. Insulins main job is to help the cells in the body take the glucose out of blood to be stored and used in cellular respiration2. After eating you begin to digest your food and sugar is introduced into the blood stream therefore insulin is released to signal cells to absorb the sugar. Insulin levels are lower between meals because the amount of sugar in the blood stream is low1. With diabetes, insulin is not produce or effective to control the body’s blood sugar level. Running high sugars can have dangerous repercussions overtime such as vision problems and kidney problems because of weak or damaged blood vessels3.
Managing diabetes consists of keeping a balanced diet, exercising, watching blood sugar levels and taking needed insulin. Diabetics inject insulin, mainly synthetic, into their blood stream between or after meals to make up for the insulin they do not produce3. The amount of insulin needed is dependent on the individual and how resistant they are to insulin. Most diabetics carry around a blood glucose meter, this is a machine that can check blood glucose levels by testing a drop of blood and displays a number illustrating the amount of sugar in the blood. Usually blood sugar levels should be between 70-130 and less than 180, 2 hours after eating2.
The production of insulin is lifesaving medicine but misuse of insulin can have dangerous repercussions. When diabetics do not have enough insulin their blood sugar will spike and be high, if the blood sugar drops below 70 it means they have too much insulin and need sugar. Both can be dangerous if it happens too often or for too long. Diabetes is a chronic condition and affects about 347 million people worldwide, the more awareness about diabetes there is, the more efforts there can be towards curing it.
Image from intel.org