Diabetes is a disease. Diabetes affects the way one’s body uses glucose (sugar) for energy. In contrast, people without diabetes have normal blood glucose levels.
People without diabetes digest food in their stomach where the food is changed into glucose (a kind of sugar). The glucose travels in their bloodstream to their body cells. Insulin produced by their pancreas allows the glucose to enter their body cells and gives the body cells energy.
People with diabetes have blood glucose levels that are too high. A diabetic’s pancreas is not making enough insulin, or the insulin it makes does not work well. Either way, without insulin the body cells can’t get the glucose they need. Instead, the glucose builds up in the diabetic’s bloodstream, so the cells ‘starve’ while the glucose level in the blood rises.
When a diabetic’s blood glucose level gets very high, the body gets rid of the glucose and calories through urine. As a result, a diabetic may have one or more of the following signs:
- Urinating more than usual
- Feeling very hungry
- Losing weight without trying
- Dry, itchy skin
- Feeling more tired than usual
- Sores that heal slowly
- Losing feeling in your feet
- Tingling in hands and feet
- Blurry eyesight
- Sexual dysfunction
Diabetes is a chronic disease and does not go away even with treatment. In addition, diabetes is progressive – if left untreated, it can lead to difficult complications. However, diabetes can be controlled.
Controlling diabetes is done with a treatment plan that keeps the blood glucose in its “target range.” Treatment plans do need to be adjusted as time passes.