When you have diabetes, your body has difficulty regulating blood sugar. The two most common types of diabetes are type 1 and type 2. Both forms result from the body's inability to either produce or use insulin. A third type, gestational diabetes, occurs only during pregnancy and may lead to type 2 diabetes.
Insulin is the hormone that controls the movement of glucose from the blood into cells. Insulin is produced by the pancreas. Glucose – also called blood sugar –constantly moves through the bloodstream in order to supply the body with the energy needed for muscle contractions and metabolism.
The job of insulin is to make sure the glucose actually moves into the body's cells. Without insulin, glucose builds up in the bloodstream. Over time, elevated glucose levels can damage the linings of blood vessels, leading to damage to the eyes, kidneys and other sensitive tissues. This vascular damage can cause blindness (diabetic retinopathy), impotence, kidney failure (diabetic nephropathy and end-stage renal disease), increased risk for heart attack and the deterioration of nerves or blood vessels. It also can cause insufficient blood flow to the arms and legs, resulting in amputation. Diabetes is the leading cause of new blindness in adults. It is also the most common condition leading to dialysis and kidney transplants and the most common reason for below-the-knee amputations.
A Tempo InDepth report about diabetes, below, aired on PBS 39 in September 2012. Lehigh Valley Health Network endocrinologist Robert McCauley, MD, is featured in the program, along with Camp Red Jacket, the health network’s free, three-day camp for children with type 1 diabetes. A diabetes-friendly cooking demonstration is included, featuring Sodexo executive chef James Lambert and clinical dietitian Sara O’Hara.