Pancreas

The pancreas (pronounced: PAN-kree-us) is also part of the body’s hormone-secreting system, even though it is also associated with the digestive system because it produces and secretes digestive enzymes.

The pancreas produces (in addition to others) two important hormones, insulin (pronounced: IN-suh-lin) and glucagon (pronounced: GLOO-kuh-gawn). They work together to maintain a steady level of glucose, or sugar, in the blood and to keep the body supplied with fuel to produce and maintain stores of energy.

What if it goes wrong?

Type 1 diabetes. When the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin, type 1 diabetes occurs. Type 1 diabetes is usually an autoimmune disorder, which means that some parts of the body’s immune system attack and destroy the cells of the pancreas that produce insulin. To control their blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of developing diabetes problems, kids and teens with this condition need regular injections of insulin.

Type 2 diabetes. Unlike type 1 diabetes, in which the body can’t produce normal amounts of insulin, in type 2 diabetes the body can’t respond to insulin normally. People with the condition tend to be overweight. Some can control their blood sugar level with dietary changes, exercise, and oral medications, but many will need to take insulin injections like people with type 1 diabetes.

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