What exactly is diabetes?

Diabetes Definition in text

Many people, especially those who don’t have diabetes, don’t have a full understanding of what it is. Sure, it’s widely known that diabetes causes problems with blood sugar levels…but what kinds of problems? What exactly is diabetes?


Diabetes is a condition that hinders the body’s ability to process glucose (a simple sugar and important energy source found in our food), either because the pancreas has stopped producing sufficient insulin or because the insulin it produces is ineffective. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that allows our body’s cells to absorb glucose from the blood.


Why is this such a bad thing? Well, glucose acts as fuel for our bodies. It gives us the energy we need to perform even the most basic daily activities. When there is very little or no insulin in our blood, glucose can’t be absorbed by the body. This causes an excess of improperly processed glucose, which can slowly destroy the many tiny capillaries that transport blood to the smallest and farthest parts of our bodies—our hands and feet. When the excess glucose in a diabetic person’s body damages enough of these capillaries, internal organs may lose their ability to function efficiently, which can lead to amputation, blindness, loss of bladder function, heart disease and kidney disease.


Furthermore, the lack of insulin prevents a diabetic’s blood cells from absorbing glucose, these cells will resort to fat as a source of energy. This is why so many undiagnosed diabetics experience inexplicable weight loss.


There are two common types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 is triggered by an attack on the pancreas by the autoimmune system. Type 2 is caused by a metabolic imbalance prompted by many possible factors—genetics, lifestyle, other health issues or even medications. Contrary to popular belief, not all cases of diabetes are caused by unhealthy lifestyles and being overweight. A thin person could develop Type 2 diabetes if they have a family predisposition or if they take medication for high cholesterol, asthma or even bipolar disorder (these medications have been known to cause Type 2 diabetes as a side effect). Unfortunately, the root causes of diabetes are still unknown.


Some diabetics can manage their diabetes with diet and exercise alone. Others may require oral medications, insulin injections or both. Some of these medications seek to help the pancreas produce insulin, while others work to replace missing insulin. When a diabetic person has elevated insulin levels, their blood cells will absorb too much glucose, causing their blood sugar levels to plunge. When insulin levels are too low, not enough glucose is being absorbed by their blood cells and their blood sugar levels will rise. Knowing how much insulin to take can be challenging, as a healthy person’s pancreas takes care of that automatically.


Testing blood glucose levels using a blood glucose meter, like the one offered by MediSure, can help diabetics gauge how much medication to take. Unfortunately, the blood testing strips that accompany many glucose meters can be pricey. MediSure Diabetic Care Canada is proud to offer diabetics a free blood glucose meter (with a lifetime warranty) with their first purchase of 100 MediSure Test Strips. These test strips are high quality and incredibly affordable at just 49 cents per strip!


For more details, visit us online at http://www.medisure.ca

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