What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition in which the level of glucose (a sugar) in the blood is too high. This is caused by a problem with the hormone “insulin” and its role in controlling blood glucose levels. When you eat, your body turns food into sugars, or glucose. At that point, your pancreas is supposed to release insulin.

Insulin serves as a “key” to open your cells, to allow the glucose to enter -- and allow you to use the glucose for energy But with diabetes, this system does not work.

Several major things can go wrong – causing the onset of diabetes. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are the most common forms of the disease, but there are also other kinds, such as gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy, as well as other forms.

Type of Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes

is also called insulin-dependent diabetes. It used to be called juvenile-onset diabetes, because it often begins in childhood. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition. It's caused by the body attacking its own pancreas with antibodies. In people with type 1 diabetes, the damaged pancreas doesn't make insulin.

This type of diabetes may be caused by a genetic predisposition. It could also be the result of faulty beta cells in the pancreas that normally produce insulin. A number of medical risks are associated with type 1 diabetes. Many of them stem from damage to the tiny blood vessels in your eyes(called diabetic retinopathy), nerves (diabetic neuropathy), and kidneys (diabetic nephropathy). Even more serious is the increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

Treatment for type 1 diabetes involves taking insulin, which needs to be injected through the skin into the fatty tissue below. The methods of injecting insulin include:

  • Syringes
  • Insulin pens that use pre-filled cartridges and a fine needle
  • Jet injectors that use high pressure air to send a spray of insulin through the skin
  • Insulin pumps that dispense insulin through flexible tubing to a catheter under the skin of the abdomen