Type 1 Diabetes and the Dysfunctional Pancreas

If you have type 1 diabetes, it means that your pancreas is malfunctioning. In your pancreas there are approximately a million cells called the islets of Langerhans.

These islets house cells that are instrumental in the manufacture of insulin, called beta cells. Normally beta cells in a healthy pancreas manufacture the hormone insulin, which is pivotal in regulating blood sugar. Insulin lowers glucose levels in the blood.

Alpha cells in the pancreas normally manufacture the hormone glucagon. Glucagon assists in adding additional glucose to the blood in the production of energy, elevating blood sugar levels.

Insulin acts like a key that opens the doors to your cells and lets glucose in to be used as energy. Glucagon increases your blood sugar level when it stimulates the muscles and liver to put out stored glucose for use.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition that constitutes approximately 10 percent of all occurrences of diabetes. It is generally diagnosed in people under 30 years of age. Most cases affect young people between 10 and 14 years of age.

In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks the body's beta cells. When beta cells have been destroyed, the body's ability to make insulin is diminished. When enough beta cells have been rendered useless, type 1 diabetes is the result. A person with type 1 diabetes must rely on insulin injections to stay alive.

When the pancreas is fully functional, insulin and glucagon control the body's use of blood sugar. But a dysfunctional pancreas means that insulin and glucagon are no longer able to do their jobs.

Diabetics inject insulin every day. An exact amount of insulin must be given, specific for that particular patient in order to regulate their blood sugar well. This is vital, because too much or too little insulin can cause serious problems.

Too much insulin and too little insulin can both lead to coma. Checking blood sugar levels is the most accurate way to determine which of these conditions is in play.

To counteract too much insulin in the blood, sugar is administered, possibly in the form of orange juice or plain old table sugar. In case of a coma from an insulin overdose, an injection of glucose is given into the bloodstream. To correct too little insulin in the blood, more insulin should be administered.

This can sound like a frightening state of affairs, but careful monitoring of blood sugar can afford a normal life. It is essential, though, to maintain a close eye on blood glucose levels, and take care to keep your blood glucose levels regulated.

 

Sources:

What is the Pancreas? March 1, 2011.

http://type1diabetes.about.com/od/type1diabetesbasics/p/What-Is-The-Pancreas.htm

Islet Cells

http://kidshealth.org/parent/diabetes_center/words_know/islet_cells.html

Type 1 Diabetes And The Isles Of Langerhans. Nov. 13, 2011.

http://www.empowher.com/diabetes-type-1/content/type-1-diabetes-and-isles-langerhans

Facts about Diabetes and Insulin. Nobelprize.org.

http://www.nobelprize.org/educational/medicine/insulin/diabetes-insulin.html

Tags: blood glucose,blood sugar,glucose,insulin,blood sugar levels,type 1 diabetes,beta cells,pancreas

Category: Type 1 Diabetes,Types of Diabetes