Diabetes, What is it?

By: Ava Bleifuss

Diabetes is a long lasting health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. How does your body turn food into energy? The food that you eat is broken down into glucose/sugar and released into your bloodstream for your body to use. When your blood sugar gets too high, there is a signal that goes to your pancreas to release insulin. Insulin is a lot like a key and in this case it lets the blood sugar into the body’s cells to use as energy. When someone has diabetes, this process does not work.

There are two types of diabetes that a person can have; the first kind is type 1 diabetes. Studies have shown that type 1 diabetes occurs by an autoimmune reaction, which is when the body attacks itself by mistake. That autoimmune reaction stops your pancreas from producing insulin. Without insulin blood sugar is not able to get into cells and it can cause many buildups in the bloodstream.

Type 1 diabetes can also be passed on from parents. If a parent has diabetes then it is possible the child also has the gene, and is more likely to develop it. Type 1 diabetes is less common than type 2 and is often diagnosed in the younger years of a person’s life. 

The second type of diabetes is type 2 diabetes. Type 2 and type 1 diabetes often get mixed up because type 2 is just where your body doesn’t use insulin properly. People with type 2 diabetes, their bodies can not control the blood sugar enough to keep it at a normal level. This long term condition causes too much sugar circulating in a person’s bloodstream, and the cells do not respond normally to insulin.

Most people who have diabetes have type 2, and it develops over many years. Normally, it is diagnosed during adulthood, but children and teens are able to get type 2 diabetes. There is no said cure for this type, but it can be managed and controlled by losing weight, eating well, exercising, and drinking plenty of water. 

Managing diabetes can be difficult. People with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes have to take insulin shots or can use an insulin pump to manage their blood sugar levels. They have to check their blood sugar regularly to make sure it is in the appropriate range. If it is too low, people with diabetes will have to take in more glucose, and if it is too high, they will have to take in more insulin. Having a lot of stress can cause managing diabetes to be more challenging, but doing regular physical activity, getting enough sleep, and having relaxation exercises can help. 

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