A Guide to Diabetes and the Pancreas

Understanding the correlation between diabetes and the pancreas can be invaluable to managing this condition. The pancreas plays two essential roles in the human body. The first role is to produce enzymes which are released into the intestines to aid with the digestive process. The second role is the production of a hormone called insulin. Insulin is used to pull the glucose from the bloodstream to use as a source of energy.

When the pancreatic cells responsible for producing insulin become damaged, the insulin does not work as effectively as it should. This leads to the development of diabetes. There are two main types of diabetes, both of which require different types of treatment. In order to get a clearer picture of how diabetes and the pancreas are related, let’s take a look at the differences between the two types of diabetes…

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes, or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, is usually quite easy to spot. This type of diabetes occurs when the cells in the pancreas become damaged to the point that they can no longer produce insulin. Type 1 diabetes is almost always diagnosed during childhood and must be treated by the use of insulin injections. Without these injections the diabetic will die.

Symptoms of type one diabetes includes excessive hunger and/or thirst, increased need to urinate, excessive weight loss or weight gain, mood alterations, fatigue, recurrent vaginal or oral infections, and abdominal pains. Diagnosis of this condition starts with describing the symptoms to a doctor. Based upon these symptoms, the doctor will conduct both a urine and a blood test. The urine will be tested for the presence of glucose, which is normally not present in the urine. If glucose is present in the urine, then diabetes is suspected. The blood will also be tested for glucose concentration to determine whether the body is breaking down glucose efficiently. The only way to treat diabetes Type 1 is with the use of insulin injections. The addition of a healthy diet rich in protein and good carbohydrates is also advised.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes, or non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, progresses much more slowly than Type 1 because the pancreas is able to produce enough insulin but the body has become resistant to the insulin. Type 2 diabetes is also more likely to occur in older people, although there have been increased occurrences in teenagers. This type of diabetes is often associated with those who are overweight or lead unhealthy lifestyles.

The symptoms of Type 2 diabetes are very similar to those of Type 1 diabetes, especially excessive hunger and thirst and frequent urination. Treatment for this type of diabetes often involves an improvement in one’s diet. Transitioning to a diet of healthy foods and the avoidance of sugary and fatty foods will help keep diabetes Type 2 under control. The addition of an exercise routine will also provide a great deal of improvement in one’s condition. Advanced stages of Type 2 diabetes may require the use of insulin injections as well as tablets and a healthy lifestyle.

Type 2 diabetes often goes undiagnosed for a long time. The symptoms tend to be less recognizable in the early stages of this condition and because it progresses so slowly, it is often diagnosed by accident. Many people discover that they have Type 2 diabetes through a routine doctor’s exam in which a blood test or urine test reveals an overabundance of glucose.

As you can see, there is an immediate and direct tie between diabetes and the pancreas. Type 2 diabetes is definitely the most common form of diabetes, accounting for 80 to 90 percent of all diabetic cases. This type of diabetes can usually be prevented by maintaining a healthy diet and by getting plenty of exercise. Type 1 diabetes is unpreventable and usually has a genetic connection. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent this type of diabetes and it is a life-long condition that must be treated through the use of insulin.