What is Diabetes and what causes it? (Definition)
There are three main types of diabetes. These include type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. A diabetes diagnosis means there are problems with the hormone insulin, which results in your blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels being too high. Glucose is vital to your health because it’s an important source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues. It’s also your brain’s main source of fuel. Having too much glucose in your blood can cause serious problems. It can damage your eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Diabetes can also cause heart disease, stroke and even the need to remove a limb. Normally, the pancreas releases insulin to help your body store and use the sugar and fat from the food you eat. Diabetes can occur when the pancreas produces very little or no insulin, or when the body does not respond appropriately to insulin.
In type 1 diabetes, your body (pancreas) does not make insulin. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. It occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, called beta cells. The CDC estimates that 1.25M Americans are living with T1D including about 200,000 youth.
With type 2 diabetes, the more common type, your fat, liver, and muscle cells do not respond correctly to insulin. This is called insulin resistance. As a result, blood sugar does not get into these cells to be stored for energy. Type 2 diabetes usually develops slowly over time. Most people with the disease are overweight or obese when they are diagnosed. Increased fat makes it harder for your body to use insulin the correct way. Type 2 diabetes accounts for about 90 to 95 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is first diagnosed during pregnancy. Like type 1 and type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes causes blood sugar levels to become too high. During pregnancy, your body makes more hormones and goes through other changes, such as weight gain. These changes cause your body’s cells to use insulin less effectively, a condition called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance increases your body’s need for insulin. If your pancreas can’t make enough insulin, you will have gestational diabetes. In many cases, gestational diabetes gets resolved following delivery.
You can also have prediabetes. This means that your blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes. Having prediabetes puts you at a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
As yet, there is no cure for diabetes although medical researchers are finding new answers every day.
For more information regarding diabetes including research and treatments, please visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine website.
Diabetes symptoms will vary depending on how much your blood sugar is elevated. People with type 2 diabetes, may not experience symptoms initially or will experience only mild symptoms. In type 1 diabetes, symptoms tend to come on quickly and be more severe.
Some of the signs and symptoms caused by type 1 and type 2 diabetes include frequent urination, excessive thirst, unexplained weight loss, increased appetite, fatigue, blurred vision, sores which heal slowly, frequent infections, sugar in the urine, labored breathing, tingling, pain or numbness in the hands/feet, and a fruity or sweet odor on the breath.
If you are at risk for diabetes and / or experience symptoms of diabetes, it’s important to talk to your doctor right away.
For more information regarding diabetes symptoms, please visit the American Diabetes Association website.
See below for updated news and information regarding Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes including new research, treatment options and advancements.
Latest Diabetes News
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Diabetes Treatment Guidelines
National Institutes of Health – Intensive Diabetes Treatment and Cardiovascular Disease in Patients with Type 1 Diabetes
National Institutes of Health – Effect of intensive diabetes treatment on albuminuria in type 1 diabetes: long-term follow-up of the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial and Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications study
National Institutes of Health – Intensive glucose control versus conventional glucose control for type 1 diabetes mellitus
National Institutes of Health – New glycemic targets for patients with diabetes from the Japan Diabetes Society
National Institutes of Health – Impact of disease-management programs on metabolic control in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus
National Institutes of Health – Strategies for Diabetes Management: Using Newer Oral Combination Therapies Early in the Disease
National Institutes of Health – Current progress of human trials using stem cell therapy as a treatment for diabetes mellitus
National Institutes of Health – Status of stem cells in diabetic nephropathy: predictive and preventive potentials