Animal Biology: Diabetes

Animal Biology: Diabetes

  • Diabetes is a medical condition characterised by an individual’s inability to regulate the glucose level in their blood effectively. It can be subdivided into type 1 and type 2.

  • Type 1 diabetes tends to develop in younger individuals. The person’s immune system mistakenly attacks cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, destroying them and thus inhibiting insulin production. No known preventative measures exist for type 1 diabetes.

  • Insulin is a hormone that facilitates the movement of glucose from the bloodstream into cells, where it is used for energy. In the case of type 1 diabetes, glucose cannot enter the cells as there is no insulin, and it builds up in the bloodstream.

  • As a result, individuals with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin regularly to help their body use glucose. This could be through injections or an insulin pump.

  • Type 2 diabetes tends to affect people later in life, particularly those overweight or obese. In this form of the disease, the body’s cells become less responsive to insulin, a phenomenon known as insulin resistance.

  • A common method used to manage type 2 diabetes includes changes in diet and increasing physical activity. Sometimes, medication is needed if lifestyle adjustments are not effectively managing blood glucose levels.

  • Potential complications of untreated or poorly managed diabetes can include eye damage, kidney disease, and nerve damage.

  • Both types of diabetes can lead to high blood glucose levels (hyperglycaemia) that, over a long period, can cause serious damage to the body’s organs.

  • In contrast, hypoglycemia refers to dangerously low levels of blood sugar. This usually occurs in individuals with diabetes who have taken too much insulin, skipped meals, or have done more exercise than usual without eating enough to compensate.