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Type 2 Diabetes Physiology T2D: Step By Step

Type 2 Diabetes Physiology (Step-By-Step)
Type 2 Diabetes Physiology (Step-By-Step)

Hey there, friend! In this article, I'm going to break down the pathophysiology of Type 2 Diabetes for you, step-by-step, so you don't need to stress about it anymore for nursing school. You will finally understand it after this article.


So write LOVE in the comments below and hit the like button to let me know you loved this article, and don't forget to subscribe.

Now let's dive in!

So diabetes, in a nutshell, means that the cells aren't responding to insulin anymore, (we call this insulin resistance), and the pancreas doesn't make as much insulin anymore.

what is insulin function

Insulin is the hormone that allows glucose to move into the cells, it's the key the glucose needs to get into the cell.
what is insulin function
what is insulin function

Without it, the cells can't get the glucose it needs, it just stays and floats around in the blood outside of the cell.

I like to think about insulin as a girl scout selling cookies, and YOU are the cell!

So normally, you're wanting your cookies, which have all that yummy glucose, so the girl scout (the insulin) comes around and gives you your cookies.

But during diabetes, there are 2 problems: the girl scout got sick and didn't show up to sell you your cookies (so there's not enough insulin), and YOU'RE busy watching TV and wouldn't have heard the doorbell anyway (which is insulin resistance).

Now, of course, you know me and you know that I LOVE breaking down these tough concepts into super-simple steps for you to follow.

You won't see these steps in your textbook or anything, so don't go looking for them.

I just made them up to help you learn this faster.

So let's walk through the pathophysiology of diabetes.

Steps of type 2 diabetes physiology

Step number 1 in the pathophysiology of diabetes:

There is a trigger that causes the cells to become resistant to insulin.

Now, we aren't exactly sure WHY type 2 diabetes happens in the first place, but there are several factors that have been shown to increase risk, like obesity and genetic factors.

Step number 2 is the cells are resistant to insulin:

So step 1 was the trigger that causes it (things like lifestyle and genetics), and now, the cells are becoming more and more resistant to insulin, and so the glucose can't get into the cells.

So in our example, this is like the girl scout coming over to your house, but you're watching TV and didn't hear the doorbell ring.

You didn't buy her glucose cookies.

Step number 3 is the lack of insulin production:

Now the girl scout (the INSULIN) gets sick and doesn't come to your house for a while.

  • She's resting at home.
  • So even though you may want some of her cookies, you can't get any because she didn't come to your house.
  • So there is a lack of insulin.
  • There's not enough insulin to give the glucose to the cells.

Step number 4 is hyperglycemia:

Both of these factors: the insulin resistance and the lack of insulin production, lead to hyperglycemia.

  • And hyperglycemia just means that there is all this extra glucose hanging around in the blood.
  • It can't get into the cells, so it's just hanging out.
  • Now, here's where things get a little more sticky.
  • The liver sees that the cells don't have the glucose they need, so it breaks down its stored up glucose (it's glycogen stores), to give some extra to the cells.
  • It's kind of like you calling the girl scout cookie manufacturer and asking for them to send you more cookies, so they do.
  • But the girl scout is still sick in bed, so she can't bring them to you!
  • Amazon and UPS don't exist in this scenario.
  • So now there are all these extra cookies floating around in the world because the poor little girl scout isn't able to do her job.
  • It's the same thing here, there's a hormone called glucagon that tells the liver to make some glucose.
  • So the liver is breaking down its extra glycogen stores into glucose for the cells to use, but there's still not enough insulin to give that glucose TO the cells.
  • So this just adds to all of the extra glucose that's floating around in the blood.
  • And the blood sugar level keeps rising and rising and rising.

Step number 5 is possible complications:

  • There are a lot of complications that can happen with Type 2 Diabetes, things like blurry vision because  all of that glucose clogs and scratches the tiny vessels in the eyes, infections that won't heal, neuropathy, and damage to the kidneys.
  • Overall, these complications are caused by the excessive amount of glucose in the bloodstream, because all of that glucose can't get into the cells to be used for energy.
  • I hope this breakdown of the pathophysiology of type 2 diabetes was helpful for you!
  • Be sure to check out the other med-Surg videos we have, as well as the videos on diabetic ketoacidosis, to help you understand how diabetes and diabetic ketoacidosis relate to each other.

And write LOVE in the comments below and hit the like button if this article helped you out, and don't forget to subscribe and hit the bell.

And I'll see you in the next article!

See The Video For More Information About Type 2 Diabetes Physiology:


Learn more about Type 2 Diabetes Physiology

WARNING! type 2 diabetes physiology Could Actually Kill You!: In this article you'll learn Diabetes Treatment is safe? or not.









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