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In a healthy person, the pancreas (an organ behind the stomach) releases insulin to help the body store and use the sugar from the food you eat. Diabetes happens when one of the following occurs:
Unlike people with Type 1 Diabetes, people with Type 2 Diabetes produce insulin; however, the insulin their pancreas secretes is either not enough or the body is unable to recognize the insulin and use it properly (insulin resistance). When there isn't enough insulin or the insulin is not used as it should be, glucose (sugar) can't get into the body's cells and builds up in the bloodstream instead. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it causes damage in multiple areas of the body. Also, since cells aren't getting the glucose they need, they can't function properly.
The Role of Insulin in the Cause of Type 2 Diabetes:
To understand why insulin is important, it helps to know more about how the body uses food for energy. Your body is made up of millions of cells. To make energy, these cells need food in a very simple form. When you eat or drink, much of the food is broken down into a simple sugar called “glucose.” Then, glucose is transported through the bloodstream to these cells where it can be used to provide the energy the body needs for daily activities.
Signs and symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes often develop slowly. In fact, you can have Type 2 Diabetes for years and not know it.
Things to look for:
- Increased thirst and frequent urination
- Increased hunger
- Weight loss
- Blurred vision
- Slow-healing sores or frequent infections
- Areas of darkened skin
When to see a doctor?
See a doctor if you notice any Type 2 Diabetes symptoms
What are the causes?
Type 2 Diabetes develops when the body becomes resistant to insulin or when the pancreas stops producing enough insulin. Exactly why this happens is unknown, although genetics and environmental factors, such as excess weight and inactivity, seen to be contributing factors.
How insulin works:
Insulin is a hormone that comes from the gland situated behind and below the stomach called the pancreas.
- The pancreas secretes insulin into the bloodstream
- The insulin circulates, enabling sugar to enter your cells
- Insulin lowers the amount of sugar in your bloodstream
- As your blood sugar level drops, so does the secretion of insulin from your pancreas
The role of Glucose:
Glucose – a sugar – is a main source of energy for the cells that make up muscles and other tissue.
- Glucose comes from two major sources: food and your liver.
- Sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream, where it enters cells with the help of insulin
- Your liver stores and makes glucose
- When your glucose levels are low, such as when you haven't eaten in a while, the liver breaks down stored glycogen into glucose to keep your glucose levels within a normal range.
In Type 2 Diabetes, this process doesn't work well. Instead of moving into your cells, sugar builds up in your bloodstream. As blood sugar levels increase, the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas release more insulin, but eventually these cells become impaired and can't make enough insulin meet the body's demands.
In the much less common Type 1 Diabetes, the immune system destroys the beta cells, leaving the body with little to no insulin.
Researchers don't fully understand why some people develop Type 2 Diabetes and others don't. It's clear, however, that certain factors increase the risk, including:
- Fat distribution
- Family history
- Gestational diabetes
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome
Type 2 Diabetes can be easy to ignore, especially in the early stages when you're feeling fine. But Diabetes affects many major organs, including your heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys. Controlling your blood sugar levels can help prevent the complications.
Although long-term complications of Diabetes develop gradually, they can eventually be disabling or even life-threating. Some of the potential complications of Diabetes include:
- Heart and blood vessel disease.
- Nerve damage (neuropathy)
- Kidney damage
- Eye damage
- Foot damage
- Hearing impairment
- Skin condition
- Alzheimer's disease