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Diabetes: Is it your fault? 1

JESSICA MAWU-KOENYA BANSAH
JESSICA MAWU-KOENYA BANSAH

Diabetes, commonly known as a sugar disease is a disease that affects millions of people each year especially Africans. One may ask, does it have to do with our genes? The answer is yes! Surprised? Well, some people get diabetes due to no faults of theirs whilst others who are born lucky drive themselves into this condition. Journey with us to prove it to you.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a medical condition that happens when your body isn't able to take up sugar (glucose) into its cells and use it for energy. This results in a build-up of extra sugar in your bloodstream. Sugar is derived from the foods we eat especially carbohydrates. It is important as it serves as fuel for the organs in our body to function. Just like vehicles, if the fuel is low, the vehicle will move slowly or stop even though all the other parts are working.

When a person ingests(eats) food, the body breaks it down into glucose for the cells of the body(organs) to use. Something must trigger the cells of the body to open up and receive the sugar(glucose). This something is called insulin. Insulin is a hormone, produced from the pancreas and released into cells when there is excess sugar in the blood. This causes the cells to open up and receive the sugar. Diabetes happens when there is a problem with insulin.

Other times, there is low sugar in the blood due to activities such as fasting, running, walking or even starving. The body compensates by asking the pancreas to secrete a hormone called glucagon which commands the cells of the body to open up and release glucose. This is why you sometimes feel satisfied after being hungry for so long. Below are the types of diabetes:

· Type 1 diabetes

· Type 2 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes

Individuals who have this type are born with a pancreas( the organ responsible for producing insulin) that produce very little or no insulin at all.  This means that they have to be on manufactured insulin for life.

Type 2 diabetes

This is the most common type of diabetes. It usually affects people who do not watch their diet even though a little family history(genes) of diabetes can increase the risk of getting diabetes. As we mentioned earlier, insulin is the hormone responsible for triggering your cells to open up and receive(store) excess glucose from the blood. For people with this condition, the pancreas is working normally but the cells do not respond well to the hormone, they develop resistance to it.

This is how it happens: There are receptors on every cell that respond to a particular chemical or substance. The receptors are like locks that respond to a particular key. If the key fits, the key will unlock and the door will open. If you fidget with the key excessively, sometimes it will end up not responding well and you will have difficulty opening the door even if it’s the right key. The same thing happens with these receptors. Remember, insulin is released whenever there is excess sugar in the blood which needs to be removed. Insulin acts on the insulin receptors on the cells which opens up and receive the sugar. If a person ingests too many sugars, it means the insulin will always be working to remove the excess sugar. Eventually, the receptors get fed up and refuse to open up. When this happens, the sugars will remain in the blood and cause the blood sugar to rise above normal causing diabetes.

Symptoms of diabetes

The body in an attempt to get rid of the sugar in the blood another way causes these to occur:

1. Polyuria- the body brings the sugar out through urine. Hence, you tend to urinate often.

2. Polydypsia- the body makes you drink more water to dilute the sugar in the body.

3. Polyphagia- you feel hungry easily. Even though there is excess sugar in the blood, the cells starve and trigger reactions that call for you to eat hoping they can be fueled. (NB: The receptors on the cells, which are the gateway to the cells become unresponsive).

The sugar in the blood may come together to thicken which can disrupt the normal flow of blood and cause the heart to work harder.

Our bodies can temporarily have high glucose in the blood, a condition called hyperglycemia. They include

1. Infection- in the presence of an injury, the body releases sugar into the blood to give you the energy to combat and withstand any pain.

2. Stress

3. Steroids from drugs and foods containing caffeine.

Effects of diabetes on the body

Diabetes can affect major organs such as

1. The kidneys- the kidneys serve as a washing machine to the body by cleaning the whole blood every day about 12 times every 24 hours. The kidneys in an attempt to remove excess sugar more than they should result in kidney failure. Individuals now have to get a new kidney transplant or go on dialysis to clean their blood.

2. The leg/foot- Diabetics usually have injured wounds and feet. This is because the nerves in the foot stop working or die. This makes it difficult to notice when they get cuts, burns or injuries. Unlike normal people who will respond quickly and do something about it, they would not know unless they make it a habit to regularly check. In the long run, they often get infections and cuts, which heals slowly because bacteria love the sugar in their blood and thrive on it. Amputation may be recommended if infections are uncontrollable.

3. Eye- diabetes can also cause blindness when the small red blood vessels break.

4. Heart- it can lead to hypertension as it causes the heart to work harder and faster.

5. Brain(stroke)- when the blood vessels in the blood burst or clot.

How can you tell if you have diabetes or not? What are some of the behaviours that can increase your risk of diabetes? Are there other types of diabetes?

The second section of diabetes arrives a week from now, Watch out!

References

  1. WHO. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diabetes
  2. Cleveland clinic. Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/7104-diabetes-mellitus-an-overview

JESSICA MAWU-KOENYA BANSAH

A young lady who is excited to influence the society and world with the knowledge she has acquired.