Diabetes Basics

What Is Diabetes?

After being diagnosed with diabetes, you have to think about it every day. Every meal you take, every drink you sip, you have to think about its consequences. Have you taken your medications? Has there been enough time that elapsed from the time you took your medicine to the time you took your meal? Have you checked the amount of glucose in your body?

You have to face these questions and a lot more every single day and there is no such thing as a vacation. Because if you do then it would all be over, with you on the losing end of the battle.

So with so many things to think about, how can you manage?

It is going to take some work, but just do it right and you should be okay. While there are no vacations from thinking about diabetes, there are things you can do to make it part of your routine – a habit. And it is a good habit to have.

Here you will learn what steps you can take to manage your life even with diabetes, as well as acquire a deeper insight into the disease itself, its many different types, symptoms, how it is diagnosed, available medications, prevention, and other useful information.

The way to live your life to the fullest even after having been diagnosed with diabetes is found not in wallowing in fear of impending death but in understanding the disease. That way you will see how it works, why you need to take control, and in the process, gain new hope in overcoming the burden of this health problem.

What is Diabetes?
Diabetes (diabetes mellitus) is a disorder of the human body that is characterized by high blood sugar levels, a condition known as hyperglycemia. It is caused either by an inadequate secretion of the glucose-regulating hormone, insulin, or an inadequate response by the body’s cells to insulin.

What does this mean to the diabetic?
Before we answer that question, let us first do a primer on basic human biology, particularly on the process of energy production.

All of us need food as a source of energy. When we eat, our bodies will convert the food into energy, usually in the form of glucose, the most basic form of sugar. So this means that the more food we eat the higher our glucose levels get.

For a person with normal health, this does not present a problem because our bodies have their own way of protecting us from the bad effects of too much sugar in the blood. That protection comes in the form of a hormone called insulin which is secreted by the pancreas. The job of insulin is to regulate the sugar levels in the blood by storing the extra glucose for future use.

Later, when the body has used up most of its energy insulin tapers off while other hormones kick in releasing the stored glucose. This process helps the body maintain a constant level of energy by allowing it to stay within the range of 80-120 milligrams of glucose per deciliter (mg/dL).

However, in a person with diabetes, this process is destroyed, leaving him vulnerable to either extremely high energy levels or extremely low. The consequence, of course, could be death, coma, plus complications of several major organs of the body, leading to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, or blindness. Because of this, diabetes is often characterized as a ‘silent killer.’

In the United States alone, about 16 million people are diabetic or are experiencing symptoms of diabetes. That means that one out of every ten people have diabetes, which makes the disease one of the most widespread health epidemics in our time.