Get the Facts

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease consisting of a high levels of blood sugar called glucose. A certain amount of glucose in the blood is necessary to provide energy for the cells. It's when the levels remain too high over a long period of time that it begins to damage parts of the body.

Insulin and glucagon are produced by the pancreas to regulate the amount of glucose in the blood. When you eat, food is broken down into glucose and enters the blood. High levels of glucose cause the pancreas to secrete insulin. The liver and muscles turn glucose into glycogen in order to store energy and remove excess glucose from the blood.

When the glucose level drops to a point where the body needs more fuel, glucagon is released causing the liver to convert glycogen back into glucose. This is how the body maintains the appropriate level of blood sugar long after we have eaten and while we are sleeping.

Muscles also store glycogen for energy. However, they do not release it into the blood stream. It is only used by the muscles during physical activity.

There are two main reasons why high blood sugar levels occur. These reasons define the type of diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes

This is where the pancreas do not make enough insulin to regulate blood sugar. This is most commonly found in children and young adults. Because the body does not process glucose, levels can rise dangerously high.

Type 2 Diabetes

With this type of diabetes, the cells of the body develop a resistance to insulin. Although sufficient insulin is produced, the body just does not respond to it. Again, blood sugar can rise to a dangerous level.

Pre-diabetes

Although this isn't technically a form of diabetes, it involves high blood sugar. While dangerous levels are not reached, damage to the body can occur over time as well as increasing risk of heart disease and stroke.

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