Homeostasis and diabetes are related because of the system of homeostatic checks and balances that allows for the proper rise and fall of glucose levels in the blood stream and within bodily tissues. The malfunction of homeostasis, leading to diabetes disease as a consequence is classified as an endocrine system disorder because diabetes can be the result of three main hormonal inconsistencies. The first two homeostatic imbalances that can lead to diabetes are when the body does not produce enough or overproduces the hormone insulin and sometimes glucagon. The third inconsistency is when a person’s body possesses nonfunctional receptor sites within target cells that cause the body to become insensitive to these same chemicals. Research shows that in many cases of diagnosed imbalanced homeostasis and diabetes disease, a combination of these disease mechanisms is present.
The pancreas, a major endocrine organ, contains special cell types, called endocrine cells, which cluster together in the islets of Langerhans and secrete insulin and glucagon, the first step in blood glucose regulation. After a meal, if the endocrine system is working in homeostatic balance, blood sugars rise and insulin prompts the cells to take up the glucose. At this point, blood sugars can be used by many body parts, like the liver and skeletal muscles, for example, as an energy-giving carbohydrate. As the majority of the glucose is used and stored by the body, insulin production is inhibited. After this inhibition, a healthy person’s homeostatic mechanism causes the glucagon levels to rise, which causes stored glycogen to be reconverted back to glucose to maintain blood levels within the healthy range.
Insulin shock, which can lead to a diabetic coma, is a direct result from the relationship between homeostasis and diabetes. During insulin shock, which is also referred to as severe hypoglycemia, the person produces too much insulin and blood sugar levels cannot adjust. When the body’s dysfunctional homeostasis and diabetes disease is related to the more common cause of the mere physical underproduction of insulin, the body cannot flush the excess blood sugar from the blood stream. In this case, an external dose of insulin is needed for homeostatic balance. This form of diabetes more commonly leads to the body becoming increasingly unresponsive to natural mechanisms.
Another complication associated with the relationship between homeostasis and diabetes is ketoacidosis. In this case, when the extra sugar collects rapidly in the blood stream and cannot be used for cellular fuel because of lack of sensitivity, an overabundance of body fats are broken down to fuel the body. The fats contribute to high fatty acid levels in the blood, which increases the person’s hydrogen ion count and causes ketoacidosis. Severe metabolic acidosis can disrupt many organ systems and can lead to coma and death as well.