Deadly chocolate bars
I love chocolate, so does my friend Kate. We both eat it occasionally for a treat but there is a big difference between Kate and I. She has diabetes; a disease, which means her body can’t use glucose sugar properly. For her a chocolate bar can be deadly.
There are two types of diabetes, type 1 where the body in unable to make a chemical hormone called insulin, which we use to digest sugar and type 2 where the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or the insulin it does make doesn’t work properly.
Type 1 diabetes usually occurs when you are a baby when the bodies own cells start to attack the cells responsible for making insulin. It is unknown why they do this but it is thought that a specific infant virus and underlying genetics may be to blame.
Type 2 diabetes usually occurs later in life and can be caused by a variety of factors such as genetics, obesity and lack of exercise.
The treatment for diabetes is insulin and diet management. Type 1 patients have to inject themselves with insulin throughout the day; timing meals around their treatment to make sure their body can digest the food properly. Scientists have developed several different types of insulin that can act for longer in the body so that patients do not have to inject themselves so much. They are also working on a new type of insulin that you can inhale for those patients afraid of needles.
Type 2 patients have some insulin in their body so a diet low in sugar can help to manage their disease. They can also take tablets to help their body produce more insulin.
Diabetes is a common disease affecting a wide range of people of all ages. If you want to meet some of them and help them manage their illness then you could with these career options:
- A nurse – running diabetic clinics and helping patients to manage their illness
- A pharmacist – giving the patients their treatments and advising how to use them best
- A pharmacologist – helping to develop new drugs and treatments for diabetes
- An endocrinologist – specialising in the treatment of hormone related disorders, including diabetes
- A molecular biologist – carrying out research into the food eaten and the effects it can have on the body
- A health information officer – promoting good health among the public to prevent type 2 diabetes
- A nutritionist – providing information and advice about the effects of food and nutrition on human health
- An epidemiologist – studying patterns of diabetes in population groups in certain regions or countries around the world
- A dietitian – working with patients to promote nutritional wellbeing and manage their diabetes
- A biomedical scientist – carrying out a range of laboratory tests to assist doctors in the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes