Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2) Quick Overview

Health & Fitness
  • Diabetes is a condition characterized by the body’s inability to regulate glucose (sugar) levels in blood.
  • In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin.
  • People with type 2 diabetes can produce insulin, but the body is not able to use the insulin effectively.
  • Symptoms of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes include
    • excessive thirst,
    • excessive hunger,
    • weight loss,
    • fatigue,
    • excessive urination.
  • The cause of type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system slowly destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Combinations of genetic factors and unhealthy lifestyle choices cause type 2 diabetes.
  • The main diagnostic test for diabetes is measurement of the blood glucose level.
  • Changes in lifestyle and diet may be adequate to control type 2 diabetes in some people. Other people with type 2 diabetes require medications. Insulin is essential treatment for type 1 diabetes.
  • To date, only the drug teplizumab has proven effective to slow progression to type 1 diabetes in some early cases detected before clinical onset. No approach has yet proven effective to prevent type 1 diabetes. Prevention of type 2 diabetes can be accomplished in some cases by:
    • maintaining a healthy weight,
    • regular, moderate to vigorous exercise,
    • sustaining a healthy lifestyle, such as nicotine abstinence.
  • Prediabetes is a condition that can occur before development of type 2 diabetes.
  • Any type of diabetes mellitus over time can damage blood vessels and nerves. Damage to blood vessels can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, and vision problems including blindness. Nerve damage can result in diabetic neuropathy.


What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a set of related diseases in which the body cannot regulate the amount of sugar (specifically, glucose) in the blood.

The blood delivers glucose to provide the body with energy for all daily activities.

  • The liver converts the food a person eats into glucose (simple sugar) and stores this glucose as starch (called glycogen). The liver releases stored glucose into the bloodstream between meals.
  • In a healthy person, several hormones tightly regulate the blood glucose level, primarily insulin. Insulin is produced by the pancreas, a small organ located in the upper belly between the stomach and liver. The pancreas also releases other important enzymes directly into the gut to help digest food.
  • Insulin allows glucose to move out of the blood into cells throughout the body, where it is used for fuel.
  • People with diabetes mellitus either do not produce enough insulin (type 1 diabetes), cannot use insulin properly (type 2 diabetes), or both (various forms of diabetes).
  • In diabetic patients, glucose cannot move efficiently from the blood into cells, so blood glucose levels remain high. This not only starves all the cells, which need the glucose for fuel, but over time also harms certain organs and tissues exposed to high glucose levels.


What Are the Types of Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes (T1D)

The body produces little or no insulin to regulate blood glucose level.

  • T1D affects about 10% of all people with diabetes in the United States.
  • T1D is typically diagnosed during childhood or adolescence. In the past T1D was called juvenile-onset diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.
  • Insulin deficiency can occur at any age due to destruction of the pancreas by alcohol, disease, or removal by surgery.
  • T1D results from progressive destruction by the immune system of the pancreatic beta cells, the only cell type that produces significant amounts of insulin.
  • People with T1D require daily insulin treatment to sustain life.

Type 2 diabetes (T2D)

Although the pancreas still secretes insulin in someone with T2D, the body’s tissues are partially or completely incapable of responding to insulin. This is often referred to as insulin resistance. The pancreas tries to overcome this resistance by secreting more and more insulin. People with insulin resistance develop T2D when they fail to secrete enough insulin to cope with their body’s demands.

  • At least 90% of adult individuals with diabetes have T2D.
  • T2D is typically diagnosed during adulthood, usually after age 45 years. It was once called adult-onset diabetes mellitus, or non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. These names are no longer used, because T2D can occur in young people, and some people with T2D require insulin therapy.
  • T2D is usually controlled with diet, weight loss, exercise, and/or oral medications. However, more than half of all people with T2D require insulin to control their blood sugar levels at some point during the course of their disease.

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