Type 2 Diabetes
Of the adult diabetic population approximately 90 to 95 percent of adults and about half of the child diabetic population have Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a combination of two problems. The first problem relates to a decreased production of insulin. This decreased production relates to the exhaustion or “burnout” of the cells that produce insulin over time. This exhaustion occurs as the body’s demands for more insulin increase. The result of cell exhaustion is a decline in the amount of insulin that the cells can produce.
The second related problem is a process called “insulin resistance”. Insulin resistance refers to a problem with the body’s response to insulin. The cells of your muscles and your fats actually don’t listen to the insulin and have trouble getting glucose from the bloodstream into the cells.
Initially, a person’s insulin resistance triggers the pancreas to respond by making additional insulin. In the beginning the extra production of insulin is able to compensate for the resistance, but with time the cells can become more and more resistant. Instead of needing twice as much insulin, after some time, a person might need three times as much insulin.
But over time, this insulin-producing cell can wear out. They effectively get tired from producing extra insulin, and they actually start to fail or burnout. This process is referred to as “beta cell burnout”. If the process of insulin resistance is not reversed, a person’s beta cells start to fail and often by the time she is formally diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, she might only have about 50 to 60 percent of the original beta cells left. The result is fewer cells trying to produce more insulin. The diabetes diagnosis is triggered, because the blood sugars become too high because an insufficient amount of insulin is produced.
Over time, if there isn’t anything done to combat insulin resistance, insulin production declines even more, and every year, a person can burn out more and more beta cells. Once a person has had diabetes for 10 to 20 years it is possible that she produces such a small amount of insulin that insulin injections will be required to replace the insulin because she just doesn’t make enough anymore.