After a meal the digestive system breaks some food down into sugar. The blood carries the sugar throughout the body, causing blood sugar levels to rise.
In response to this rise, the hormone insulin is released into the bloodstream to signal the body tissues to metabolize or burn the sugar for fuel, causing blood sugar levels to return to normal. A gland called the pancreas, found just behind the stomach, makes insulin.
Sugar the body doesn't use right away goes to the liver, muscle, or fat for storage.
In someone with diabetes, this process doesn't work. In people with type 1 diabetes, the pancreas doesn't produce insulin. This condition usually begins in childhood. People with this kind of diabetes must have daily insulin injections to survive.
In people with type 2 diabetes, the pancreas usually produces some insulin, but the body doesn't respond very well to the insulin signal and doesn't metabolize the sugar properly, a condition called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is an important factor in type 2 diabetes.
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