Diabetes Mellitus is a disease when the body’s ability to respond to or create insulin is impaired. Insulin is a hormone that gets released by the pancreas. It helps the body use and store the fats and sugar from foods. All the foods and drinks that enter the body break down into the sugar, Glucose. Insulin is the hormone that regulates the glucose in the bodies bloodstream. When people have diabetes, their pancreas does not produce enough, or any, insulin (type 1 diabetes), or their body resists the insulin (type 2 diabetes). So, why is it important for the glucose to stay in a target range? High and low blood sugar is a way of saying the body has too little or too much insulin. Having high or low blood sugar can make the body very sick. High blood sugar happens when there is not enough insulin in the body to regulate the sugar in the bloodstream. High blood sugar can be caused by not enough exercise, eating too much or not taking diabetes medicine. It can also occur if a person is sick, under stress, or has an infection. Low blood sugar is when there is too much insulin in the body. This can be because of taking too much insulin, exercising too much, missing a meal or drinking a large amount of alcohol. Low blood sugar can drop very quickly and is more of a problem than high blood sugar. To get blood sugar back up to the target range, a person can drink a sugary drink, candy or even, straight sugar. Low blood sugar can make a person feel shaky, tired, hungry or emotional. People tend to become sleepy, confused or irritable. Some even pass out or have seizures. A person with high blood sugar could become thirsty, tired faint, and sick to the stomach. There are many ways to treat diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes usually need to take insulin every day, eat a balanced diet, get regular exercise and check their blood sugar multiple times a day. Type 2 diabetes can sometimes be treated with just a healthy diet and exercise. Other times people will need medication, like insulin or a pill. There are two main ways to get insulin inside the body, with a needle or an insulin pump. An insulin pump is a small device that contains insulin and connects with a plastic tube which is inserted under the skin. An insulin pump is programmed to deliver insulin throughout the day. The amount of insulin can be changed if a person needs more or less. To check blood sugar levels, a blood glucose meter is used. It measures the amount of glucose in a person’s blood. To collect a sample if blood, a needle called a lancet is poked in the skin to get a drop of blood. The blood is put on a testing strip that the meter reads.Type 1 diabetes usually occurs under the age of 20 but can occur at any age. Type 2 diabetes commonly happens for people over 40 who are overweight, but studies have shown that is becoming more common in younger people, due to childhood obesity. Diabetes is not typically life threatening but it can cause some side effects. People with diabetes have a higher risk of heart disease, uterine and pancreatic cancer, or stroke. They can also develop kidney disorders and nerve problems.Diabetes currently has no cure and is a lifelong disease. I wanted to know what people with this seemingly bothersome disease thought about having diabetes. 1 in 11 adults in America have some type of diabetes, and so I asked one of my peers who had it, what it was like. Ella Van Zee, 15, has had type 1 diabetes since she was four. I asked her whether diabetes was annoying to have to deal with. “It can (be bothersome). Sometimes it’s just something that is there and I have to take care of it,” she says, “But other times it can get really in the way, like when I have to check my blood sugar during class.” Van Zee says it doesn’t prohibit any foods she can eat but she will choose to not eat a certain food because her blood sugar is too high. She states, “It can sometimes be really scary because I drop (blood sugar) so quickly” but she has never thought of her lows/highs as a “diabetic attack”. Her best advice to people just getting diagnosed is to stay strong and stay brave. It was interesting to talk with Ella about diabetes as it provided me with a better understanding of the disease.


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