What Is Diabetes?

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Diabetes is a disease that occurs in several different types, with the main factor being the inability to produce enough insulin in the pancreas to handle the demands of the food and sugars that enter the body. Learn the different between type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes with information from a family nurse practitioner in this free video on diabetes.

Part of the Video Series: Diabetes Symptoms & Treatments
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Video Transcript

Hello. You may be wondering exactly what diabetes is. Well my name is Sonya Wade and I'm an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing and a family nurse practitioner. And if you've ever been wondering that question, what is diabetes? I would like to share that information with you. Diabetes can present itself in many different ways. There are two main types of diabetes. There's type one and type two. Type one diabetes is when the body's immune system and that's that system that goes into action and fights against infections, but with type one diabetes, when your body starts to fight against itself, it recognizes cells called beta cells, which are made in your pancreas that produce insulin and those cells, your body recognizes those cells and begins to fight and destroy them. And when those beta cells, which produce insulin that our bodies have to have in order to control the foods that we eat that produce sugar, when those cells are destroyed, then someone with type one diabetes is left with no insulin and therefore, they would have to have insulin injections to treat type one diabetes. The other diabetes, type two, is the most common form. It's seen in almost 90-95% of the population. Type two diabetes is when the body, those beta cells do produce some insulin, but the insulin that they produce is not enough insulin to meet the needs of the body and the demands of the food and sugars or the food that's turned to sugar when it enters the body. Or you may have a resistance with the insulin as it tries to smooth the outer edge of the cells so that the sugar can go inside the cell like it's supposed to. And that's the mechanism of the insulin, to make the outer edge cell so that the sugar will move in. And so either one of those different mechanisms of the insulin in a type two diabetic is not working appropriately. And if that's the case, the individual will continue to make some insulin, but they also may require some supplemental oral diabetes medicines, or after the disease has progressed for a while, they may also require some insulin as well to manage their diabetes. There's a third diabetes, which is called gestational diabetes. But that diabetes only occurs in pregnant women.

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