Types of Diabetes
Diabetes Mellitus, more commonly known as Diabetes, is a health condition in which a patient suffers from high levels of blood sugar. High blood sugar can be an indication of low (or no) natural production of insulin. Insulin is a hormone which is produced by the pancreas. This insulin is responsible for the maintenance of normal blood sugar levels. Another cause of high blood sugar is that cells within the body fail to respond to the natural production of insulin created within the pancreas. Typically, this failure of response by the cells is caused by lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise. This failed response causes the body to become immune to the insulin created in the pancreas, at which time the patient is diagnosed with Diabetes.
The three most common and most pronounced symptoms of diabetes are : Polyuria (frequent urination), Polydipsia (excessive thirst) and Polyphagia (excessive hunger). Diabetes is classified into three main types. Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes and Gestational Diabetes. Let’s look at a brief overview of each of the three types:
Type I Diabetes
Typically diagnosed in children and young adults, Type 1 Diabetes makes up approximately 10% of all diabetics. Type 1 Diabetes was previously more commonly known as ‘juvenile diabetes’ and ‘insulin dependent diabetes’. It is termed as an autoimmune disease as the autoimmune system destroys the beta cells that produce insulin within the pancreas. The purpose of insulin is to convert the starches and sugars digested into energy, without said conversions, the sugars and starches raise blood sugar to life threatening levels. Left untreated, Type 1 Diabetes is fatal, however with careful treatment, most Type 1 Diabetics live an otherwise normal and healthy life.
Symptoms of Type I Diabetes are the same as with Type II Diabetes but are much more pronounced, They include: frequent urination, excessive thirst, increased hunger, persistent tiredness, weight loss and changes in vision including blurred vision and blindness.
Treatment for Type 1 Diabetes typically lasts a lifetime and includes insulin therapy through injections or an insulin pump. Other treatments can include a pancreatic transplant and Islet cell transplantation. The causes of Type 1 Diabetes can be from any number of factors such as viruses, diet, genetics or other environmental factors.
Type II Diabetes
Typically diagnosed in adults and the aging, Type II Diabetes develops when the cells in the body fail to respond in the correct manner to the insulin created naturally within the pancreas. The patient becomes resistant to the insulin resulting in a Diabetes diagnosis. Type II Diabetes was previously more commonly known as “insulin resistant diabetes” or “non-insulin dependent diabetes”. Type II Diabetes is the most common of the three types accounting for approximately 90% of all diabetic diagnosis. The disease occurs as a result of genetic factors as well as the patient’s lifestyle (i.e. unhealthy/poor diet, lack of exercise, obesity, inactivity, high blood pressure).
Initial symptoms of Type II Diabetes are the same as Type I Diabetes, however the symptoms are less pronounced. They include: frequent urination, excessive thirst, increased hunger, persistent tiredness, weight loss and changes in vision including blurred vision and blindness.
Treatment for Type II Diabetes vary. If diagnosed in the early stages, patients can work with their health professional, managing their diabetes with oral medications and lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise. If the diabetes cannot be controlled with these measures, or if the diagnosis comes in later stages – insulin injections maybe necessary.
Gestational Diabetes is diagnosed in pregnant woman who have no previous diabetes diagnosis, yet exhibit high blood sugar readings during pregnancy (typically in the third trimester). Gestational Diabetes occurs in approximately 2% – 5% of pregnancies and if left untreated can cause severe heath issues to both mother and child. They include (but are not limited to): High birth weight, delivery complications, jaundice and infantile low blood sugar. It can also lead to seizure and still birth of the infant.
Unlike Type I and Type II Diabetes, Gestational Diabetes has few symptoms and is typically diagnosed after routine screening using an oral glucose tolerance test .
Gestational diabetes is easily treated and tends to either improve or disappear after the child is born. However, it is important to note that 20-50% of women who have been previously diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes are diagnosed with Type II Diabetes within 5-10 years.
There are more types of Diabetes, which are not common and fall into a category known as “Other Specific Types”. They include: congenital diabetes, cystic fibrosis-related diabetes, steroid diabetes and several forms of monogenic diabetes. Congenital Diabetes develops due to defects of insulin secretion, whereas Steroid diabetes is induced by high doses of glucocorticoids.