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After school, when her friends flock to the store to pig out on candy and snack cakes, Sara passes up the sugary treats and sticks to the bottled water and half of a sandwich she packs.
Like your cell phone needs a battery, your body needs glucose to keep running. The pancreas is a long, flat gland in your belly that helps your body digest food. Insulin is kind of like a key that opens the doors to the cells of the body. Then the glucose can move out of the blood and into the cells.
But if someone has diabetes, the body either can't make insulin or the insulin doesn't work in the body like it should.
The glucose can't get into the cells normally, so the blood sugar level gets too high.
Lots of sugar in the blood makes people sick if they don't get treatment.
There are two major types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.
Each type causes high blood sugar levels in a different way.
In type 1 diabetes (which used to be called insulin-dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes), the pancreas can't make insulin.
That's because — for reasons doctors don't completely understand — the body's immune system attacked the pancreas and destroyed the cells that make insulin.
When a person has type 1 diabetes, the body is still able to get glucose from food, but the lack of insulin means that glucose can't get into the cells where it's needed. This makes the blood sugar level very high and causes health problems.
Once a person has type 1 diabetes, the pancreas can't ever make insulin again.
To fix this problem, someone who has type 1 diabetes needs to take insulin through regular shots or an insulin pump. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas still makes insulin.