The primary relationship that exists between the pancreas and diabetes is that cells inside the bodies of diabetics have become resistant to insulin, which is produced by the pancreas. This causes the pancreas to overcompensate and produce too much insulin. Overworking the pancreas eventually can cause it to become less efficient or, in severe cases, completely stop producing insulin. People with diabetes generally exhibit this pancreatic degeneration.
Insulin produced by the pancreas is considered responsible for keeping blood sugar levels normal. When insulin is no longer being produced or is in short supply, blood glucose levels rise. Without insulin to signal to the cells that the sugar should be absorbed, these levels can become dangerously high. In addition, continual high levels of blood sugar can have many dangerous side effects.
Another important relationship between the pancreas and diabetes is production of the hormone glucagon. It has been described as a balancing agent for insulin. The two hormones work together to maintain stable levels of glucose. Glucagon also plays an important role in how organs in the body are able to utilize glucose. When the pancreas is not producing glucagon, organs can become damaged because they are unable to release the buildup of sugar.
The relationship between the pancreas and diabetes has been the subject of many studies. Research shows that even in young people, overuse of the pancreas can sometimes quickly lead to its malfunction. The severity of diabetes is very often a good measurement of how much insulin the pancreas is still able to produce. In those whose pancreas has completely stopped working, daily injections of insulin are usually required.
Many drugs have been developed that minimize the impact of imbalances that exist in the relationship between the pancreas and diabetes. Probably the most significant was the development of synthetic insulin. Synthetic insulin mimics the hormone produced by the pancreas, and is used by most diabetics. Other drugs taken by diabetics are primary in a class called “blockers” or “inhibitors.” These drugs help slow the rise of blood glucose levels.
Diabetes is typically classified in two different types. Type 1 diabetes is considered genetic and is usually suffered by children and young adults. It is considered a lifelong condition that requires careful management. Type 2 diabetes occurs most often in people who are overweight and over the age of 40.