Diabetes mellitus, or "sugar" diabetes, reiterates to the bodies inability to appropriately manage blood sugar levels. In order to understand this disease, we have to first understand the hormone insulin. Insulin is the hormone responsible for managing blood sugar levels. In essence, when there is lots of sugar floating around in the blood (ie: after eating a candy bar), insulin is secreted by special cells in the pancreas known as β-cells. Insulin then travels around the body and binds to receptors on many different tissue types where it exerts a specific effect. For example, insulin binds to cells in the liver. This binding instructions hepatocytes (ie: liver cells) to remove glucose from the blood and store it in a polymerized form known as glycogen. The goal of all these effects is to bring the blood sugar level back within normal limits.

The problem in diabetes mellitus is that insulin is either not secreted by the pancreas, or does not perform its function appropriately. Therefore, very high blood sugar levels can occur.

There are two forms of diabetes:
– Type 1
– Type 2

Type 1 diabetes mellitus is an auto-immune disorder, which means that the body literally attacks itself. In this case, the body attacks the β-cells in the pancreas. The result is that the body is no longer able to secret insulin.

The pathology of type 2 diabetes is more complicated. It is believed to be caused by a combination of different factors. Genetics, lifestyle, and diet all seem to play an important role.

In type 2 diabetes the pancreas is still able to produce insulin. However, the problem is that insulin does not have its normal effect on other body tissues. This is known as "insulin resistance." In an effort to combat this resistance, the pancreas secretes more insulin. Sometimes the insulin resistance becomes too severe; the pancreas can no longer keep up, and blood sugar levels begin to rise. If they rise beyond a specific laboratory threshold the diagnosis of diabetes is made.


Source by BC Gabel

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