Monday, December 13, 2010


Good morning!  My dear friend, DeeAnn requested that I go over the differences between type I and type II diabetes once more.  A lot of this information has been put on my blog during DIABETES MONDAY posts, but it is always good to get a review of the basics.

All of the food we eat is first broken down by our digestive system into sugar so that it can be used by our cells as energy.  Energy that we need to heal, grow, and maintain our overall health.  Simply said, but it is a huge process that involves the pancreas.  Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas.  Insulin is important because it "grabs" the sugar and "carries" it past the cell membrane taking the sugar into the cell.

Type I diabetes is a condition where the pancreas no longer produces insulin.  Usually, Type I diabetics are diagnosed as children or young adults.

Type II diabetes is a condition where the body does not produce enough insulin, or the body does not recognize the insulin made by its own pancreas.

Symptoms of diabetes are the same depending if you have hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).  Let's take a look at each. This list was taken from The ADA (American Diabetes Association) actual website so I wouldn't have to sit here and cite from memory then wonder if I'd forgotten anything...






•Pale skin color

•Sudden moodiness or behavior changes, such as crying for no apparent reason

•Clumsy or jerky movements


•Difficulty paying attention, or confusion

•Tingling sensations around the mouth

Check your blood sugar level to confirm that your sugar level is low and is the actual cause of your symptoms.  As you can see from the list of symptoms, a lot of different illnesses can be the cause of a particular symptom. 

Hypoglycemia is a life threatening condition and requires treatment immediately.   Simply, you need to get that blood sugar raised.  If the person who is having the reaction is conscious, the easiest way to increase blood sugar levels is to have them drink some juice or regular soda.

The ADA (American Diabetes Association) recommends 15-20 grams of carbohydrates to elevate blood glucose levels.  The list on their website is as follows:

•4 oz (1/2 cup) of juice or regular soda

•2 tablespoons of raisins

•4 or 5 saltine crackers

•4 teaspoons of sugar

•1 tablespoon of honey or corn syrup

15 to 30 minutes after you have eaten or drank something, re-check your blood sugar level to confirm that it is going up.  Then it is important to try to think what caused your hypoglycemia. 
Did you skip a meal or a snack when you'd already taken your insulin?
Did you exercise a little bit harder than expected, burning more sugar, and forgot to replenish?
If you did eat, think about the number of calories of your meal or snack.  Was it enough?
Did you double up on your insulin?  Meaning....did you take your normal dose got busy doing other things and thought, "Did I take my insulin today?" and thinking you had forgotten, you repeat the dose. (Let me assure you...this DOES HAPPEN!)
Okay...Now on to Hyperglycemia or high blood sugar levels.  Again, taken directly from the The ADA website for expediency and accuracy.
•High blood glucose

•High levels of sugar in the urine

•Frequent urination

•Increased thirst

As with  hypoglycemia, when you start to experience these symptoms you need to check your blood sugar to confirm that it is indeed, high.  Once you determine your glucose level, you need to get that sugar down before your condition turns from simply having high blood sugars to life threatening conditions such as HHNK (hyperglycemic hyperosmolar nonketotic coma ) or DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis).  Next week I will go over the differences and similarities of each, so stay tuned!
Interestingly enough, the ADA recommends you exercise first if your blood sugar is high.  They also stated that if you plan to treat with exercise, you should check your urine for ketones first as it may have the opposite affect--raising the blood glucose levels higher.  Ketones are a byproduct from your body breaking down fats and will actually put your body into an acidosis...but more about that next Monday as it fits in nicely with the HHNK and DKA discussion.
Your doctor may have put you on a "sliding scale" regimen with your insulin.  As you check your blood sugar levels throughout the day, depending on what the results are, you may need to take additional insulin.  If you find your glucose levels are still high after following your recommended ADA diet and taking your insulin as instructed, you may need to contact your doctor to let him know that adjustments may need to be made to your diabetic regimen. Other reasons why your blood sugars may be too high could be due to illness, stress, and not being on the correct number of calories you are supposed to eat in a day. 
I'm going to leave you with some pictures of some famous diabetics! 
Dorian Gregory, Actor.

James Cagney, Actor

Jay Cutler, Quarterback

Bret Michaels, Singer

David Wells, Pitcher

Tommy Lee, Rocker

Happy Monday Everyone!



symptoms of diabetes said...

Nice post Kathleen. Unfortunately, in the case of type 2 diabetes, there are no diabetes symptoms, or they go unnoticed or they're ignored. That is why people who have high risk factors such as being overweight, over 45 years of age, physically inactive, having a family history, etc. should be tested for diabetes.

Kathleen Grieve said...

Thanks for commenting! The "Key" word in your comment is "...they go unnoticed or they're ignored..." Which tells me you do acknowledge the symptoms of diabetes for type II diabetics when they go through a reaction if blood sugars run very high or very low. People will notice changes, however small--but are often quick to rationalize the change or, as you said, "ignore". One of my older sisters is one such person. Even after she was diagnosed with type II diabetes, she refused to accept it, telling me "I don't have diabetes. I'm fine." Acceptence of a diagnosis is very important.

A basic chemistry which is run with a yearly physical will have a glucose check on it. A doctor would be remiss if he/she noted a high glucose, or very low glucose; and didn't call you to follow up for further testing--such as running a hemoglobin A1C or doing a glucose stress test.