Sheila McCarthy

Health 200 - Section 002

What is it

Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired, resulting in levels of glucose in the blood rising to abnormal levels. Glucose is a critical part of normal cell function but when glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it can immediately starve your cells of energy and over time hurts the function of many of your organs.

There are several types of Diabetes including Type 1 which is also known as Juvenile Diabetes because it is generally present at birth or soon after and is characterized by a complete lack of ability to produce insulin. A second type is Gestational Diabetes - this is a temporary malfunction of insulin production seen during pregnancy.

However the most common form of Diabetes is Type 2. This type can develop at any age and is characterized by a an eventual diminished ability of the pancreas to produce and/or the body to effectively use insulin. This is the most common form of Diabetes and is also the most treatable. Left untreated however, it can result in blindness, loss of legs or feet, painful and serious skin conditions and infections, kidney failure, stroke, heart attack.

Who does Diabetes Type II Affect?

Right now, over 30 million people in the US have diabetes with >85% of those being Type 2. Another 86 million people in the US have pre-diabetes and of those 30% will develop the disease (without preventative action) within the next 5-10 years. African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos and Pacific Islanders have a higher risk for developing Diabetes and for developing it younger. Worldwide, 422 million people have diabetes - that number has quadrupled since 1980.

Risk factors for Diabetes Type 2 include but are not limited to:
  • A body mass index over 24 (or 22 for people of Asian descent)
  • a family history of diabetes
  • older age
  • getting little physical activity
  • having had gestational diabetes

Are you at risk for Diabetes Type II? Take this test and find out.

Biological Process of Diabetes

When you eat, your body breaks food down into glucose (sugars) and sends it into the blood. Insulin, which is created by the pancreas, helps break down and move the glucose from the blood into your liver, fat and muscles cells to use as energy. When glucose enters your cells, it is either used as fuel for energy right away or stored away in fats for later use. In a person with diabetes, there is a problem with insulin - either in the production of it or in its ability to clear glucose out of the blood. If the insulin is not working properly (insulin resistance), the pancreas at first produces more to make up the difference but eventually it cannot keep up the blood glucose levels rise and stay high. The basic biological effect of high blood glucose level is damage to cells and to the blood vessels supplying critical organs.



Someone with Diabetes may experience the following symptoms but for many with pre-Diabetes, no discernible symptoms can be felt. That's why it is critical if someone has any of the risk factors they should see their doctor.


If a patient is at high risk for diabetes or has the symptoms above, their doctor will order a blood glucose test to measure the amount of glucose in the blood. Because glucose levels are directly related to eating, the patient may fast before the test or takes the test on multiple days to get an accurate reading. The diagnosis is related to a specific level of glucose (mg/dl) remaining in the blood during one more of the following measurements:
  • average blood glucose levels over time (A1C)
  • blood glucose after fasting for 8 or more hours
  • glucose remaining in blood 2 hours after sweet drink

Treatment for Diabetes

When Type 2 diabetes is mild, blood glucose can return to normal, nondiabetic levels through lifestyle changes—namely, eating fewer calories and exercising regularly. The primary goal is weight loss, which can lessen insulin resistance.

Type 2 diabetes can be controlled without medications in many cases, but because it can recur, so the terms “reversible” and “cured” are not used once the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes has been made.

There are three important facets for treatment of Diabetes:

Nutrition and Exercise:

  • achieve and maintain healthy body weight;
  • be physically active – at least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity activity on most days. More activity is required for weight control;
  • eat a healthy diet, avoiding sugar and saturated fats intake; and
  • avoid tobacco use – smoking increases the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Monitoring: Checking blood glucose levels with various tools is the primary spowerful-home-remedies-that-fight-diabetes-natural-diabetes-prevention.jpgource for Diabetics to ensure they are staying healthy. This is done on a daily basis (multiple times a day) and through an AC1 test administered by health care professionals. For daily monitoring it is important to keep a log of the results.

At the time of an A1C test, a diabetes patient can get the ABC's of their diabetes. A is the average blood glucose level over the previous months. B is for Blood Pressure, if BP is high then it is a sign that the glucose is not being metabolized well. And C is for cholesterol. If cholesterol (especially triglycerides) is high it is a sign that fat in the blood is high and patient is at higher risk for heart attack and stroke.

A doctor may determine that medication is needed to control diabetes and hopefully prevent the negative consequences from occuring. There are many drugs that can be prescribed and they each work in a slightly different way to address the needs of the patient. Some of the drugs induce the pancreas to create more insulin, some lower glucose levels by inhibiting the liver from producing/releasing glucose. Another type of medication is taken specifically at meal time and cause the cells to release insulin as needed.

Simple Steps to Diabetes Prevention

Preventing and Treating Diabetes
Preventing Diabetes Is Primarily A Matter of Basic Lifestyle Changes