Diabetes is a disease that occurs when the amount of glucose, or blood sugar, gets too high. This is glucose, the main source of our body’s energy which comes mostly from the food we eat. Normally, insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose from our food get into our cells to be used for energy. But what happens if we can’t produce enough insulin – or we produce none at all? Let’s take a look at the pancreas, where
insulin is made. With type 1 diabetes, our body’s immune
system destroys the cells in our pancreas. This means our body can no longer make insulin and we need to take it daily to live. In type 2 diabetes, either our body doesn’t
use insulin well or the pancreas makes some insulin but not enough to carry sufficient
glucose into our cells. Either way, we need to make up the difference by taking insulin or other diabetes medications to control our blood sugar. With either type of diabetes, glucose levels in our blood can get too high, which can lead to health problems, including heart, kidney, nerve, and eye diseases. Though diabetes is serious, it can be managed so it’s less likely to cause health problems. For people with diabetes, check your average blood glucose level with an A1C test to determine whether that level is within your target range to reduce health problems. We also need to take our prescribed diabetes medicines, make healthy food and activity choices, manage our blood pressure and cholesterol, and quit smoking to help us live healthier lives. To learn more about diabetes and how you can delay or prevent health problems, visit www.niddk.nih.gov or call 1–800–860–8747.