About Diabetes

What is Diabetes?

Valerie M. Turner, MSN, RN, CDE

Diabetes is a problem with how your body uses food and energy.  To better understand diabetes, it helps to know what happens in the body normally.

Most of the food we eat breaks down into glucose, which is often called sugar.  Glucose is your body’s main source of energy.  To use glucose for energy it must first into your body cells.

Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas which helps glucose from food go into your cells to be used for energy.  Normally the pancreas releases the right amount of insulin to keep your blood glucose level from going to high.


When diabetes occurs, your pancreas makes little or no insulin, or your body cells don’t respond to the insulin that is produced.  Glucose stays in your blood and doesn’t reach the cells.  Even though glucose is available in the blood, your body can’t use it.  Your cells now lack the energy they need to keep your body working properly.

Overtime, having too much glucose in your blood can lead to serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, amputation of the legs and feet, and early death.  Although diabetes has no cure, you can steps to manage your disease and live healthy.

 

References:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diabetes at a Glance: Working to Reverse the U.S. Epidemic.  https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/aag/diabetes.htm. Last updated June 25, 2016.  Accessed June 6, 2017