Medical: What is diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus is usually just called diabetes. Diabetes is caused by having too much sugar (glucose) in your blood. Your kidneys cannot process all that glucose, so some of it ends up in your urine (pee). Since glucose attracts water, this causes your body to make a lot of urine and you must pee often and a lot. Because of this, you lose too much fluid and you dehydrate, which makes you thirsty all the time. When you have diabetes, and are not yet being treated by a doctor, you feel like you want to drink often and drink a lot.
Diabetes is a chronic condition, which means that even though there is treatment, there is no cure yet. But a lot of diabetes research is being done worldwide, which may lead to a cure in the future.
What is insulin?
Insulin is a hormone which helps your body absorb glucose, it acts like a key that opens the door in your body's cells so that glucose can enter. Insulin is made in your pancreas, an organ that makes hormones and enzymes. A special part of the pancreas, called the pancreas islet or "Islets of Langerhans", contains two types of cells that make hormones. These are called alpha cells and beta cells. The alpha cells produce glucagon, beta cells produce insulin.
Cells make hormones and then release them into your blood. When they are in your blood, they can trigger certain actions in other parts of your body. The same goes for the hormone insulin, it ensures that glucose can be absorbed by the body’s cells. Cells have a ‘receptor’ which is like a keyhole, and insulin fits perfectly into that keyhole. Glucagon stimulates the liver cells to break down glycogeen into glucose, which enters your bloodstream.
Text: Marloes Vegelin
Revision: Joost Rotteveel
Animations: Caroline Ruigrok
Editor: Paulette Mostart›