SOS! SOS! Glucose levels low in blood! Cells may die!
In times like these, you may feel dizzy, with a funny, swimming feeling in your head. There’s only one way out… devour something. Eat! Drink! And restore your basic body fuel, glucose, back to normal.
Under Normal circumstances: when a person eats, food is broken down to simplest units that can be used by the cells, and for easy access to these throughout the body, they are added to the blood stream. When blood glucose levels are adequate, an organ called pancreas releases a hormone, insulin, into the blood. This chemical entity goes and binds to receptors on the cells which make it possible for them to take in glucose, and utilize it to get energy to live.
This is not always the case; blood glucose levels may be all right, probably even higher. But the cells in the body are forced to observe a fast, seeing the glucose flit by, but not able to take it in for using. This is because of a third player in the game, called insulin (naturally present in our body), which directs cells to take up glucose.
This small talk has been our little prologue to one of the most common diseases – Diabetes. We are all familiar with the name… but not so much with its functionality and mechanism.
Why so in the first place?
The glucose-metabolizing game gets over when;
A. The cells stop agreeing with insulin (become “insulin resistant” or have defective insulin receptors)
B. When insulin is injured (the body does not produce enough insulin)
C. When insulin is shown the red card (the body does not produce insulin at all)
So all diabetes isnt the same…
Diabetes Type I, one of the two major forms of the disease, happen when the body doesn’t produce insulin at all due to genetic or developmental defects. It’s the younger lot that gets stuck with this kind. People suffering from this type are required to take in insulin from outside to save the game.
The other form, Diabetes Type II, occurs when the cells of body either stop responding to insulin or there is less insulin for the body. Here, injectable insulin may not always be useful; diet control and weight reducing regimens are often the only solutions to this kind of disease. This is the more common form of diabetes with older age group sufferers. They start relying mainly on fats in their diet for their energy requirements.
So, when you are over forty, and experience the signs of low blood glucose when you know it shouldn’t be so, you ought to get around to checking out your blood for glucose concentration from time to time. But if you have it in your family, don’t even wait for the signs to appear; just start keeping a check on your sugar levels regularly.
Diabetes is not curable… But it’s not uncontrollable either.
Don’t be an easy bait.
–By Syeda Qudsia, NUST Science Blog