Diabetes, or Diabetes Mellitus to give it its proper name is a chronic disease that affects millions of people around the world. It is classified as a set of related diseases that occur when the body cannot regulate the amount of sugar or glucose in the blood stream. Glucose or sugar provides the blood with energy. It is produced by the liver from the food that we eat.
For those with a healthy system, the blood glucose level is regulated by several hormones, one of which is insulin. This essential chemical allows glucose to move from the blood to the liver, muscle and fat tissue, providing energy for the body. Insulin is produced by the pancreas, which also secretes enzymes important for proper digestion.
Diabetes is the resulting condition when the body does not produce adequate amounts of insulin properly in the system. The glucose therefore cannot move into the cells and convert into energy, but rather builds up in the bloodstream. This build-up harms both the cells seeking fuel as well as the organs and tissues exposed to the higher glucose levels.
Diabetes can be divided into two types:
Type 1 Diabetes
In this type the body stops producing insulin or produces so little that the body cannot regulate its blood sugar level on its own. This type is most commonly identified during childhood or in young adults and was previously known as ‘juvenile diabetes’. Type 1 diabetes can occur in adults and older persons as well. Type 1 diabetes normally requires daily insulin treatments to stay healthy.
Type 2 Diabetes
In this type, the pancreas secretes insulin as expected and sometimes at the proper levels, but the body cannot process the insulin completely. The body tries to overcome the rejection by producing more insulin. This is commonly referred to as ‘insulin resistance’ and is normally recognised in adulthood. Type 2 diabetes is controlled with proper diet, weight loss if required and oral medications.
Diabetes can lead to poor blood supply, loss of sensitivity (peripheral neuropathy) and greater risk of infection to the feet. It is therefore more important, if you have diabetes to look after your feet.