Diabetes (high blood sugar)

Abdomen | Endocrinology and Metabolism | Diabetes (high blood sugar) (Disease)


A person with diabetes has a chronic disease in which the body is unable to regulate blood sugar properly. As a result, blood sugar levels become abnormally high. Blood sugar, or glucose, is an important source of energy for all cells in the body. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas. Insulin regulates the level of glucose in the bloodstream. There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes, which begins in childhood, and type 2 diabetes, which affects middle-aged adults the most.

Causes and Risk factors

Our body relies on blood glucose for energy. Insulin stimulates the body’s cells to use this glucose as energy to fuel a wide range of functions. When a person has diabetes, the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin or the body’s cells don’t respond adequately to the hormone.

Over time, diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney failure, and nerve damage. These types of damage are the result of damage to small vessels, referred to as microvascular disease. Diabetes is also an important factor in accelerating the hardening and narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis), leading to strokes, coronary heart disease, and other large blood vessel diseases. This is referred to as macrovascular disease.

The cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown, but it is believed that genetic and environmental factors (possibly viruses) may be involved. What is known is that the bodys immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. When glucose cannot enter the cells, it builds up in the blood, depriving the cells of nutrition.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, accounting for 90 to 95 percent of diabetes cases. The exact cause of the disease is unknown. However, it sometimes runs in families. Although a person can inherit a tendency to develop type 2 diabetes, it usually takes another factor, such as obesity, to bring on the disease. It is a chronic disease with no known cure.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes need to use insulin or other medications. People with very difficult-to-control type 1 diabetes may be candidates for a pancreas transplant, a kidney-pancreas transplant or an islet cell transplant, after carefully weighing the risks and benefits. ...

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