Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas (our liver’s neighbour) by specific cells called beta-cells.
This hormone has the very important job of allowing glucose to travel from the blood stream to the body cells where is it going to be burn into energy.
Without insulin, glucose is not allowed to go inside the body and this is where hyperglycaemia occurs.
Think about this as a club with a doorman. The guests are glucose; the doorman is insulin and the club is the cell. Guests arrive at the door wishing to go to the club, the doorman is there and his job is to open the door for the guests.
In diabetes, when the guests arrive at the club entrance, there is no doorman or the doorman is very slow to open the door to the guests, therefore the guests can’t enter the club or enter in a very slow pace.
Guests start to accumulate, meaning that blood glucose starts to rise and the club, or the cell, is deprived of glucose.
These two situations describe the two main types of diabetes: Diabetes type I and Diabetes type II.
Now, relating this explanation to the typical signs and symptoms of diabetes such as:
- “I feel tired”
- “Oh Yes! I go to the toilet frequently at night”
- “I feel so thirsty”
- “I am losing weight but I am eating normally or more than before”
It is easier to understand what is happening in the individuals with diabetes and probably happening to you. I will explain one by one:
Tired and losing weight
The glucose is not entering the cells, so there is no production of energy and the body is deprived of energy to do its normal job.
Also, as explained previously, the glucose level is high outside the cells but low within it. In this situation, the cells will tell the brain that there is glucose missing and the brain will “tell you” to eat more.
Constant visits to the toilet
Our body is very intelligent.
When the brain senses that the blood sugar levels are very high (usually above 10mmol/L) it tells the kidneys to get rid of the sugar excess through urine and that is why people with diabetes feel thirst.
If the kidneys are working more, more urine is produced and the body loses higher quantities of water. That’s why there is the (sensation of) need to drink more water.
As you can understand diabetes affects a very crucial and vital for life body function and that’s why it must be taken seriously through a good diabetes management.