What is diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus is a serious condition where your body can’t control glucose levels because it is either not making enough insulin or the insulin being made is not working properly.
When we digest foods which have carbohydrates in them, glucose is released from the food and it travels into our bloodstream.
The body needs to get glucose from the bloodstream into our cells. We have cells all around our body, mostly around muscles. Once the glucose is in the cell, it starts to make energy.
This is a cell. Every cell has a lock on it. You need insulin (the key) to unlock the cell to allow glucose to enter the cell. Insulin is made by the pancreas.
In Type 1 diabetes
Your pancreas cannot make any insulin keys at all. Your body will break down carbohydrate to make more and more glucose, but it builds up in your blood stream. Symptoms will start very quickly- over a few days or weeks. Your body will try to get rid of glucose through your kidneys, which makes you wee a lot and become very thirsty. When your body cannot make any energy, you will become very tired.
In Type 2 diabetes
Two things might happen. Sometimes, your pancreas can’t make enough insulin keys. Sometimes the insulin key doesn’t work properly in the cell door lock. Most often, as you can see from the picture below, one key is not enough to unlock the cell door, so the glucose can’t get into the cell to make energy.
New research, called the DiRECT trial has shown that losing weight can help to reverse your type 2 diabetes if you have been recently diagnosed.
With type 2 diabetes, you can help your insulin keys to work better by eating a healthy diet and moving more. You might need medicine too. Your doctor or Practice Nurse will help you to decide what is best for you.