Diabetes is a chronic disease that cannot be cured but can be treated and controlled. It occurs when a patient’s blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Blood glucose is the main source of energy in the human body and it comes from the nutrition.
Insulin is a hormone produced by an organ, the pancreas. It allows glucose to enter in the body’s cells for it to be used as a source of energy.
When a person lacks insulin or cannot absorb it well, as is the case in diabetes, glucose can not be used as fuel to the cells. It accumulates in the blood and causes an increase in the sugar level (hyperglycemia).
Almost 90% of diabetics live for years with this disease without knowing it because the symptoms generally does not manifest for a very long time. According to the World Health Organization, we talk about diabetes when the blood glucose while fasting is above or equal to 1.26 g/l. It is recommended to check this number a second time in order to have two blood sugar measurements.
Type 1 diabetes (T1D) and type 2 diabetes (T2D) are often mixed up, however there are some big differences and it is easy to distinguish them. People with T1D tend to have a total lack of insulin, whereas too little insulin and inability to use it effectively, means they suffer of T2D.
Insulin is the only “drug” of insulin-dependent diabetes. Over the last decade, insulin manufacturing and purification techniques have been revolutionized. Currently the easiest way is the insulin pen.
People with T1D must inject insulin to compensate for the pancreas’ insufficiency. Injection, rather than taking insulin through the mouth is necessary because it is destroyed by the digestive juices. Since the treatments are daily (often several times a day), the patient must learn to manage the injections himself.
There are various types of insulin, with varied rates of action. The majority of patients practice 3 to 5 injections per day, or use an “insulin pump”, a small device attached on the body and designed to offer a continuous insulin infusion, 24 hours a day.
In addition to insulin, the patients are also required to create a daily routine that includes monitoring blood sugar levels several times a day, in order to to know the right dosage of the insulin injection, following a healthy diet that spreads carbohydrates through the day, exercising on a regular basis, quitting smoking and drinking alcohol, and making regular medical checkups.