Diabetes Resources and Clinical Trials on Diabetes

Diabetes is a common disease that affects the body's ability to process sugar. Approximately five to 10% of North Americans will develop this condition. The disease is characterized by chronic high blood sugar and either impaired insulin secretion or insulin resistance.

Insulin is a hormone that is produced in the pancreas and is released into the blood stream. It helps glucose from food get into the body's cells to be used. If insulin secretion or production is impaired, glucose can't get into the cells and stays in the blood instead - causing high blood sugar.

When blood sugar is high enough, the kidneys can no longer reabsorb the glucose filtered from the blood. This causes frequent urination, dehydration, excessive thirst and excessive consumption of fluids. Because the cells cannot access glucose, they are starved and the person with diabetes experiences fatigue and increased hunger. If there is no insulin, the search for energy causes breakdown of body fat and protein, which leads to weight loss.

The health effects of diabetes are widespread. If untreated, it can lead to a number of serious complications including blindness, kidney failure, coronary artery disease, stroke and nerve disorders.

There are two types of diabetes. Type I diabetes accounts for approximately 10% of all cases and usually starts in childhood. It is not usually associated with obesity and is the result of damage to the pancreas causing it to be unable to produce insulin. Treatment includes insulin shots or an insulin pump, appropriate diet, regular exercise, daily aspirin and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol.

Type II diabetes is much more common and develops in adulthood. It is associated with insulin resistance and has strong genetic links. It usually has a gradual onset and occurs primarily in people who are overweight. Treatment includes using diabetes medications, appropriate diet, regular exercise, daily aspirin therapy and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol.

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