Diabetes – What Is It Anyway?
Diabetes is often misunderstood. Some people refer to diabetes as “sugar” or “sugar diabetes.” When you hear the word “sugar,” do you think of that white granular stuff that you sprinkle on your strawberries. Or use to make cookies. Or frosting. The medical term for diabetes is diabetes mellitus.
Diabetes occurs when the level of sugar in the blood is too high. The medical word for blood sugar is glucose. Glucose is a form of fuel for the body. Just like your car, your body cannot run well without the proper fuel.
Let’s back up a little. The food you eat goes to your stomach. Digestion begins there. When the food breaks down to its simplest form, it can be used by your body. Different foods are used for different purposes in the body. One of the uses for food is to provide fuel for your body.
In fact, all foods have the ability to serve as fuel. Some fuels are better suited to certain parts of your body than others. For instance, your brain can use only ONE kind of fuel, glucose. No other fuel will work for feeding your brain cells.
However, we have all heard that you “can get too much of a good thing,” right? Well, this is definitely one of those situations. You need a certain amount of glucose to keep your body healthy and working. However, if you have too much glucose (blood sugar) floating in your blood stream, you run into trouble. That trouble is called diabetes.
There are hormones that aid in proper use of fuel in your body. One of these hormones is called insulin. When diabetes is present, there is one of two problems with insulin. Either there is not enough insulin produced by the body. Or the body is not able to use the insulin properly. Either way, the end result is a rise in the level of glucose in the bloodstream – especially right after eating.
The Bad News about High Blood Sugar
Too much glucose floating in your bloodstream damages the cells in your eyes, in your kidneys, and the large blood vessels of the heart and brain. The results of high blood sugar over a long time can be blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, and strokes.
The Good News about Diabetes
Fortunately, we know that controlling the levels of glucose in the blood can lower the risks of blindness, kidney failure, heart attack and stroke. The closer the levels are to normal – the lower the risk of complications!
Learning to control your blood glucose is not as hard as it sounds. Once you know how, you can take charge of your own diabetes care most of the time. It is important that you know when to call in the professionals, though. If you can attend a class approved by the American Association of Diabetes Educators, you will learn the basics of self-care. If you need on-going encouragement and assistance in dealing with the day-to-day issues of blood sugar control, you need a diabetes coach. If your blood sugars start doing something unexpected, be sure you call your doctor or your coach.
Future Diabetes Topics
In future blogs, we will discuss more about what diabetes is and how to control diabetes. If you would like to be notified when a new blog is posted, please sign up below.