Medical Terminology: The Pancreas and Type 2 Diabetes
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Medical Terminology: The Pancreas and Type 2 Diabetes

October 28, 2019

The pancreas is an accessory organ of digestion. The pancreas is an elongated organ of approximately 6 to 9 inches. It is located in the upper left quadrant of the abdomen, behind the stomach. It extends horizontally across the body, beginning at the first part of the small intestines (duodenum) and ending at the edge of the spleen. The pancreas functions as both an exocrine and an endocrine gland. As an exocrine gland, the pancreas manufactures the digestive juices containing: trypsin (which breaks down proteins) pancreatic lipase (which breaks down fats) pancreatic amylase (which breaks down carbohydrates) sodium bicarbonate, which neutralizes acidic stomach content. As an endocrine gland,the pancreas manufactures insulin. Specialized group of cells known as the islets of Langerhans are scattered throughout the pancreas. Beta cells of the pancreas secrete insulin, a hormone that makes it possible for glucose to pass from the blood through the cell membranes to be used for energy. Insulin also promotes the conversion of excess glucose into glycogen. The alpha cells of the pancreas secrete glucagon, a hormone that stimulates the liver to convert glycogen into glucose in time of need. Type 2 Diabetes is gradual in onset. It results from the body’s deficiency in producing enough insulin or resistance of the action of insulin by the body’s cells. Type 2 is the most common form of Diabetes. It is usually diagnosed in adults older than age 40, although it has increased amongst America’s young adults. It is very common for overweight and obese people whose responsiveness to insulin is abnormally low to develop Type II diabetes. Other contributing factors to Diabetes Type 2 is inheritance and other factors that lead to insulin resistance. One of the symptoms to the onset of Diabetes Type 2 is Hyperglycemia, which is high blood sugar. – and this includes frequent urination, dry skin, hunger, blurred vision, drowsiness, and nausea. A reduction in insulin deprives cells of the glucose fuel they need and they begin to metabolize proteins and fats as replacements. This activity causes metabolic waste products known as ketones. Increased tissue resistance to insulin generally occurs first and is eventually followed by impaired insulin secretion. The pancreas produces insulin, yet insulin resistance prevents its proper use at the cellular level. Glucose cannot enter target cells and accumulates in the bloodstream, resulting in hyperglycemia. When excessive glucose accumulates in the blood, an overflow sent to the urine, a condition called glycosuria develops. Polydipsia is a term given to excessive thirst and is one of the initial symptoms of Diabetes. Another symptom of Diabetes is Polyuria, which is the excessive passage of urine of at least 2.5 Liters per day for an adult, resulting in prefuse urination and urinary frequency. Complications of diabetes cover a wide range of ailments from circulatory problems to infections to organ failure. Diabetic nephropathy is a kidney disease resulting from diabetes. Diabetic neuropathy is loss of sensation in the extremities. Diabetic retinopathy is a disease of the retinal blood vessels causing gradual visual loss leading to blindness. The goal of diabetes treatment is to keep blood glucose levels as near to normal as possible. Treatment for the disease includes diet, weight loss, and exercise. It may also include insulin or oral anti-diabetic agents, which activate the release of pancreatic insulin and improves the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Type 2 diabetes usually has a slow onset and may remain undiagnosed for years. Approximately half of those who have type 2 diabetes are unaware of their disease. It’s important to eat and sleep well, exercise, and lose weight if necessary to reduce one’s propensity to this disease.

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