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What is Diabetes?

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Diabetes is a condition that occurs when the body can’t use glucose (a type of sugar) normally. Glucose is the main source of energy for the body’s cells. The levels of glucose in the blood are controlled by a hormone called insulin, which is made by the pancreas. Insulin helps glucose to enter the cells.

Diabetes is caused when there is resistance to, or deficient production of insulin, which helps glucose move from the blood into the body’s cells. When the body does not produce or use enough insulin, the cells cannot use the glucose for energy and the blood glucose level rises. This means that the body will instead start to break down its own fat and muscle for energy.1

Globally, there has been a dramatic increase in the prevalence of diabetes. It is estimated that if the current world wide trend prevails, there will be 380 million people affected by diabetes by the year 2025.2 Even though diabetes affects nearly 4% of the world’s population,3 many people know very little about the disease.

There are 2 primary types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes occurs when your immune system destroys the beta cells in the pancreas that create insulin. As a result, the body makes very little or no insulin of its own. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin daily. Type 1 diabetes is sometimes called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes.
  • Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not make enough insulin, or the body cannot properly use the insulin it does create. Eventually, the pancreas may stop producing insulin altogether. Type 2 diabetes can affect people at any age. In both men and women, the more overweight an individual is, the greater the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.4

1 Department of Health and Ageing-What is diabetes? http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/pq-diabetes-what
2 International Diabetes Federation. Did you know? Available at: http://www.idf.org/home/index.cfm?node=264. Accessed October 16, 2008.
3 US Census Bureau. World Population Clock Projection. Available at: http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/popclockworld.html. Accessed October 16, 2008. Estimated world population is 6.8 billion.
4 International Diabetes Federation. Fact Sheet Diabetes and Obesity. Available at: http://www.idf.org/home/index.cfm?node=1207. Accessed November 13, 2008.

 

A hormone produced in the beta cells in the pancreas. The body uses insulin to let glucose enter cells, where it is used for energy.

Also known as type 1 diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas produces no insulin or extremely small amounts. People with type 1 need to take insulin injections in order to survive.

Now known as type 1 diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas produces no insulin or extremely small amounts. People with type 1 need to take insulin injections in order to survive.

Hypoglycaemia

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Hypoglycaemia occurs when your blood glucose level drops too low.

The body responds to low blood glucose levels with warning signs that may be different in each person. Some warning signs of low blood glucose are feeling:

  • Weak
  • Shaky
  • Irritable or confused.

Low blood glucose may occur if your meal or snack is delayed or missed, after vigorous physical activity, or if too much insulin is given. In a person without diabetes, the pancreas will stop producing insulin if the blood glucose level falls below normal. In a person with diabetes, the insulin they inject or pump keeps working, even when the blood glucose level is low.

Low blood glucose may be caused by the following:

  • Not following your meal plan
  • Too much exercise or exercising for a long time without eating a snack
  • Too much medication or a change in the time you take your medication
  • Stress
  • Side effects from other medications
  • Alcohol intake, especially without food

Regular testing may help you avoid hypoglycaemia. Low blood glucose can happen very quickly, so you should be prepared to act fast to correct it. If untreated, hypoglycaemia can cause serious effects, such as seizures or unconsciousness.

Someone who is having seizures or who has passed out will need help from others. People at this severe stage will need an immediate glucagon injection. A healthcare professional must prescribe glucagon and show you and your loved ones how to prepare and inject glucagon.

A hormone produced by the alpha cells of the pancreas which increases blood glucose levels.

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This website contains information on products which are targeted to a wide range of audiences and could contain product details or information otherwise not accessible or valid in your country. Please be aware that we do not take any responsibility for accessing such information which may not comply with any valid legal process, regulation, registration or usage in the country of your origin. For people with diabetes. Use only as directed. See your healthcare professional for medical advice.