What is Diabetes?

If you thought, when first diagnosed "what is diabetes?" you can find out here.

If you have diabetes it means you are too sweet. Actually it is your blood that is too sweet because it contains too much glucose (sugar).

So how do you get too much sugar in your blood?

It's not because you eat too many sweet or sugary things – there are a lot of people who do that and are never faced with having to ask what is diabetes (they might be overweight though!).

It was a long time before the questions 'What is diabetes?' 'Why is it some people retain sugar in their blood and others don't?' were answered by scientists.

They discovered it's because your body is not functioning properly and is not producing, or properly using, the hormone necessary to process the sugar in your blood and so keep your body in balance.

What is the hormone you need? It is insulin and it is produced by beta cells in your pancreas. You see, your body needs a certain amount of sugar to function properly, and it needs to be absorbed by your cells to give you energy – which is where the insulin comes in. The insulin helps your body cells absorb the glucose from your blood.

Diabetes occurs when there is a breakdown in this part of your immune system. And, the severity of the breakdown affects the type of diabetes you have; type 1 or type 2.

If all the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas have been damaged, so no insulin at all is formed, you have what is known as type 1 diabetes. This usually happens to younger people. It is more frequently this type of diabetes that occurs in children, although that trend is changing.

Type 1 is normally treated by taking insulin, controlling your diet sensibly and taking additional exercise. If you have a child with diabetes have a look at the free guides here, including a Tips for Teens with diabetes.

In the case of type 2 diabetes you may have a situation where your insulin-producing beta cells are producing some, but not enough, insulin in your system.

Or, it may be, your insulin is being produced but your body cannot use it properly to absorb the sugar you need for energy, leaving it in your blood-stream. This is known as insulin resistance. It’s called acanthosis nigricans (AAY-can-THO-sis NIG-ruh-cans), No, I can't pronounce it either, it's easier to use its shortened form: "A.N.". Apparently it is quite common in type 2 diabetics.

You can sometimes control type 2 diabetes with a carefully planned diet and exercise. Check out the Game Plan guides in these free diabetes publications.

If the damage (or insulin resistance) is more severe, then you may need tablets to control your sugar (glucose) levels and, in some cases – usually later in life, you may need to inject insulin as a 'top-up'. Your diabetes medical care team will help you find the best treatment for you and remember, they can give you a lot of information that is more applicable to you when you ask them 'What is diabetes and how does it affect me?'

If you are finding it difficult to balance your blood sugar levels with your prescribed medication/diet regime, you may find it's worth having a look at this website I found. They offer a natural ingredients supplement to help control your blood sugars and stimulate insulin production where needed.

Won't do any harm to look, will it?

The Embarrassment of…

One interesting point about insulin resistance; your body is continuing to manufacture the insulin but, because it is not being used, it builds up and can create dark marks around your neck or in your armpit.

I used to think the grey mark around my neck was staining off the jewelry I was wearing and I often wondered why it wouldn't clean up when I scrubbed at it.

It was so embarrassing when I was going out - I'd often wear something with a high neck just to cover-up. Thank goodness, since getting my diabetes under control, I don't get a dirty-looking neck so often and can now wear more flattering necklines!

So if you, or your loved one has, what seems to be a dirty patch, it may just be a build up of insulin which will probably disappear once your blood-sugar balance is right.

Who Gets Diabetes?

People from South Asia or who are African-Caribbean are more susceptible to developing diabetes. And certain lifestyles contribute to diabetes as well. Click here for Causes of Diabetes. And read 50 ways to prevent diabetes, one of the documents on my free diabetes publications page. It is written specifically for African Americans.

Consequences of Diabetes

Diabetes in itself is enough of a trauma to cope with. But as well as finding out what is diabetes, it is really important to understand how it affects other areas of your health. Good blood-glucose control, or lack of it, has a dramatic affect on your health. Click here to discover more about Health Complications from Diabetes

Check This Out

I found a brilliant website that explains, with an interactive demonstration and a fun quiz at the end, what is diabetes. Have a look: What is Diabetes Interactive demo

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