Diabetes is a severe, life-threatening condition in which the body loses its ability to turn glucose (sugar) from food into usable energy.
An interesting fact, according to The American Heritage College dictionary, diabetes is named for one of it's symptoms. The disease was known to the Greeks as diabetes, a word derived from the verb diabainein, made up of the prefix dia-, "across, apart," and the word bainen, " to walk, stand ". The verb diabeinien meant " to stride, walk or stand with legs apart"; Hence, its derivative diabetes meant " one that straddles" or " a compass siphon". The sense "siphon" gave rise to the use of diabetes as the name for a disease involving the discharge of excessive amounts of urine. (Pg.382).
The muscle cells and other tissues in the body require certain specific levels of glucose and carbohydrates to maintain their functions. The level of glucose absorbed into the bloodstream by the intestines, and the method by which glucose enters the body's cells, is controlled by a hormone called insulin. The insulin hormone is produced in the pancreas, a gland located behind the stomach.
People with diabetes either produce too little insulin or their cells become resistant to its action, resulting in abnormally high levels of blood sugar. Then sugar levels are severely raised, the condition is called hyperglycemia.
There are three main types of diabetes, Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (Type I), Non-Insulin Dependent (Type II), and Gestational Diabetes. The causes, short-term effects, and treatments are different. But, they cause the same long term health problems. .
Type I diabetes is an autoimmune disease. It occurs most often in children and young adults, but can appear at any age. It use to be known as juvenile diabetes. People with this type have little or no ability to produce insulin. The cause of Type I diabetes is unknown, but childhood infections are possibly responsible and a tendency to develop it may be inherited.