Antibodies are specialized proteins
that are part of the immune system. They are created when an antigen (such as a
virus or bacteria) is detected in the body. The antibodies bond with the
specific antigen that triggered their production, and that action neutralizes
the antigen, which is a threat to the body. Antibodies are created to fight off
whatever has invaded the body. See also autoantibodies.
An antigen is a foreign substance
(such as a virus or bacteria) that invades the body. When the body detects it,
it produces specific antibodies to fight off the antigen.
Autoantibodies are a group of
antibodies that “go bad” and mistakenly attack and damage the body’s tissues
and organs. In the case of Type 1 diabetes, autoantibodies attack the insulin
producing beta cells in the pancreas.
§ Autoimmune disorder
If you have an autoimmune disorder
(also called an autoimmune disease), your body’s immune system turns against
itself and starts to attack its own tissues.
§ Basal secretion (basal
We all should have a small amount of
insulin that’s constantly present in the blood; that is the basal secretion.
People with Type 1 diabetes must take a form of insulin that replicates the
basal secretion throughout the day; that’s basal insulin.
§ Beta cells
Beta cells are located in the islets
of Langerhans in the pancreas. They are responsible for making insulin.
§ Blood glucose level
The blood glucose level is how much
glucose is in your blood at a given time. This level is very important for
people with diabetes, and they must monitor their blood glucose level
throughout the day. If the blood glucose level is too high (hyperglycemia),
that means that there isn’t enough insulin in the blood. If it’s too low
(hypoglycemia), that means that there’s too much insulin.
§ Bolus secretion (bolus
After we eat, the pancreas releases
the right amount of the hormone insulin to process the carbohydrates in the
meal; that’s the bolus secretion. People with Type 1 diabetes must take a form
of insulin that replicates the bolus secretion; that’s bolus insulin.
Carbohydrates are one of the three
main energy sources for the body (the others are fat and protein). Your body
breaks down carbohydrates to get glucose, which then provides energy to the
§ Diabetes mellitus
Diabetes mellitus is the full name
for diabetes, but most people refer to it as just diabetes.
Diabetic ketoacidosis (abbreviated to DKA) is a very serious condition. It
occurs when there is no insulin to help the body use glucose for energy.
Glucose builds up in the blood, and the body turns to fat for energy. As the
body breaks down the fat, ketones are released, and when too many of those
build up in the blood, it makes the blood acidic. If you don’t get immediate
treatment for DKA, it can lead to a coma or even death.
One of the possible long-term
complications of diabetes is kidney disease and failure. If your kidneys aren’t
working well, they can’t clean the blood. Dialysis is a treatment option for
people with kidney failure. It’s a process that artificially cleans the blood.
§ Endocrine system
Your endocrine system produces
hormones that control bodily function. Diabetes is an endocrine disorder
because insulin is a hormone. In Type 1 diabetes, the body doesn’t produce
insulin. With Type 2 diabetes, the body either produces too little insulin or
doesn’t use it correctly.
§ Fasting blood glucose
The fasting blood glucose is one of
the ways that diabetes is diagnosed. It measures the blood glucose level after
Fat is an energy source for your body
(the other two energy sources are carbohydrates and protein).
§ Gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes is diabetes that
occurs during pregnancy. Women with Gestational diabetes have unusually high
blood glucose levels while pregnant. The symptoms usually dissipate after
delivery, but women who have Gestational diabetes are more likely to develop
Type 2 diabetes later on.
Glucagon is a hormone made by the pancreas. It raises the blood glucose level,
so it counteracts the effects of the hormone insulin. If someone with diabetes
has very low blood glucose (hypoglycemia), then a glucagon injection may help
raise the blood glucose level.
Glucose is a sugar that the body uses
for energy. In order to use it properly, your body must have enough of the
§ Glucose intolerance
The hemoglobin A1C measures the blood glucose level over 90 days. It helps you
and your doctor see how well you’ve done controlling your blood glucose level
Hyperglycemia is when you have too much glucose in the blood.
Hypoglycemia is when you have too little glucose in the blood.
Insulin is a hormone that helps the
body use glucose. Insulin allows glucose to enter the cells that need it,
especially the muscles. Without insulin, glucose can’t get to where it needs to
go. People with Type 1 diabetes don’t have this hormone; people with Type 2
diabetes either don’t have it or their bodies aren’t able to use it.
Insulin resistance is when the body doesn’t respond as well as it should to
insulin. It’s an early sign of Type 2 diabetes.
When the body starts to break down
fat in order to get energy, ketones are a byproduct. When too many of those
build up in the blood, it makes the blood acidic and can lead to diabetic
Lipohyertrophy occurs when an injection site is overused. The skin swells and a
node can develop. The skin swells and may become tough. Injected insulin may
not be absorbed very well from a site that has been overused.
§ Macrovascular complications
Over time, poor blood glucose control
can lead to serious complications, including damage to major blood vessels—to
the macrovascular system. Macrovascular complications cause plaque to build up
in the arteries, which can lead to a heart attack, which can lead to a heart
attack or stroke.
Over time, poor blood glucose control can lead to serious complications,
including damage to tiny blood vessels—to the microvascular system. These microvascular
complications of diabetes can lead to problems with the eyes (retinopathy or
cataracts), kidneys (nephropathy), and nerves (neuropathy).
Nephropathy is damage to the kidneys. It is a possible long-term complication
of diabetes. Nephr- is a Greek root that means kidney, and –pathy is a Greek
root meaning damage.
Neuropathy is damage to the nerves. It is a possible long-term complication of
diabetes. Neuro- is a Greek root that means nerves, and –pathy is a Greek root
§ Oral glucose tolerance test
The oral glucose tolerance test is
one way that diabetes is diagnosed. It measures the blood glucose level five
times over a period of three hours after you drink a high glucose mixture.
The pancreas is an organ of the endocrine system. A specific area of the
pancreas, the islets of Langerhans, produces the hormone insulin.
Pre-diabetes, also called glucose intolerance, is when a person has high blood
glucose levels, but they aren’t high enough yet to be diagnosed as diabetes.
Pre-diabetes is an early sign of Type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance (when the
body doesn’t use insulin as well as it should) is another pre-diabetes sign.
Protein is a source of energy (as are carbohydrates and fat). Protein is found
mainly in meat and beans.
Retinopathy is damage to the retina.
It is a possible long-term complication of diabetes. The retina is the part of
the eye that senses light, and –pathy is a Greek root meaning damage.
§ Target range
Blood glucose levels need to stay within a certain range,
and when you have diabetes, you must regulate your blood glucose levels with
diet, exercise, and (perhaps) insulin. Before meals, the target range is 70 to
130 mg/dL, and one to two hours after a meal, the target range is below 180