May 2004Return to About Diabetes
Diabetes is more than one disease, although in each type high blood glucose is found. The types of diabetes are defined by what has caused the blood glucose to be high. If blood glucose is high, either there is not enough insulin, or the insulin is not working effectively.
Insulin is a hormone secreted from the pancreas. Insulin helps move the glucose from the blood into the cells. In type 2 diabetes the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin may not produce enough, or the insulin that is produced is not able to move the glucose from the blood, into the cells.
Normally when you eat, blood glucose rises, and this causes insulin to be secreted by the pancreas. If the cells in the pancreas are not producing enough insulin, or if the insulin isn’t effective, blood glucose remains in the blood causing it to be high. Over time, high blood glucose levels may hurt your eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart.
The body tries to keep all systems in a balance or at a steady rate, called homeostasis. For most people, it is the release of insulin that allows the glucose to enter the body cells to provide energy needed for cellular activities. If your pancreas isn’t producing enough insulin, medications may help. If the insulin you are producing isn’t working well, medications may help that as well.
People who are overweight sometimes become “insulin insensitive” and the insulin they produce doesn’t work well. Losing weight usually helps this condition.
Remember, this information doesn’t replace any that your doctor may have given you or spoken to you about. Whenever you have questions about your diabetes or how it is being treated, talk to your doctor.