Canadian Health&Care: What is diabetes?
There are two main types of diabetes:
- Type 1 – this type of diabetes usually appears in younger people under the age of 40 but may occur at any age. It is treated by insulin injections and diet;
- Type 2 – this type of diabetes usually appears in people over the age of 40 but is becoming more common in younger age groups as a result of the increase in obesity in the general population. Type 2 diabetes may go undetected for many years and because people do not always feel unwell, it may be discovered by chance at a routine medical. It usually responds well to diet or tablets but as it is a progressive condition, most people need insulin treatment eventually with Canadian health Care Pharmacy. There may be mild symptoms such as thirst, tiredness and passing excess urine, which should disappear once treatment is established.
Diabetes is often detected following a routine blood or urine test for glucose and it may therefore exist for many years without being discovered. People in this situation often feel perfectly well at the time diabetes is diagnosed. Unfortunately, undetected diabetes may over a period of years lead to complications affecting eyes, nerves and blood vessels.
WHAT HAPPENS IN DIABETES?
The pancreas is a gland situated in the upper part of the abdomen and connected by a fine tube to the intestine. One of its functions is to release into the gut digestive juices, which are mixed with food soon after it leaves the stomach.
These digestive juices are needed to break down food and help it be absorbed into the body. This part of the pancreas has nothing to do with diabetes.
The pancreas also produces a number of hormones which are released directly into the bloodstream, unlike the digestive juices which pass into the intestine. The most important of these hormones is insulin and a shortage of this causes diabetes. The other important hormone produced by the pancreas is glucagon, which has the opposite action to insulin and may be used in correcting serious hypos. (‘Hypo’ is short for hypoglycaemia, meaning low blood sugar.) Both hormones come from a part of the pancreas called the islets of Langerhans, which are scattered throughout the pancreas.
Why does the body need insulin?
Without insulin the body cannot make use of the food we eat. Food is broken down in the stomach and intestine into simple chemicals, such as glucose and fatty acids, which provide fuel for all the activities of the body. These simple chemicals also provide building blocks for growth or replacing worn out parts, and any extra is stored for later use. In diabetes, food is broken down as normal but, because of the shortage of insulin (or sometimes because insulin does not work properly), excess glucose cannot be stored and builds up in the bloodstream. When glucose rises above a certain level, it spills into the urine through the kidneys.