Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disease caused by either an elevated or decreased blood sugar level. It has two major types: Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, classified according to how a person’s system handles natural insulin production.
In Type 1 Diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin requiring people having it to inject a dose of insulin when their blood sugar level drops. In Type 2 Diabetes, the body does not consume all the insulin produced by the pancreas, which explains the high blood sugar level.
Based from the National Diabetes Association’s 2011 survey, 18.8 million people or 8.3% of the entire population from all age groups were diagnosed with Diabetes; 7 million were undiagnosed; and 79 million were diagnosed with Prediabetes symptoms. The World Health Organization estimates that there are more than 347 million cases worldwide and predicts that nearly 370 million more will be affected by 2030.
The Diabetes Research Center concludes that 1 in 10 adults in the US has Type 2 Diabetes, and 1 in 400 children and adolescents has Type 1 Diabetes. Also, according to National Diabetes Clearinghouse or NDIC:
- Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes is the primary cause of kidney disease, lower-limb amputations, and blindness in the US
- It is the top cause of heart attack and stroke
- It is the 7th chief cause of death
Types of diabetes
Several known types of Diabetes are existing today, the most common of which include:
- Type 1 Diabetes, which occurs when the pancreas fails to manufacture the needed amount of insulin for consumption. In this case, the person becomes insulin-dependent due to the loss of beta cells that produce insulin.
- Type 2 Diabetes, formerly referred to as NIDDM or non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, occurs when the body does not consume insulin properly resulting in elevated blood sugar level. Also called as adult onset diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes is characterized by insulin resistance, which may also be combined with insulin deficiency.
- There is another type of Diabetes called gestational diabetes, which is acquired by women during pregnancy period, especially when they reach their third trimester. This happens because of increased blood glucose level occurring when insulin receptors fail to work properly.
Other types of diabetes include:
Prediabetes – is a condition where a person is detected to have high or low blood sugar levels but not high or low enough for Diabetes Type 1 or 2 diagnosis.
Congenital autoimmune diabetes mellitus – is a rare type that is genetic, not hereditary, and is caused by an impaired insulin-producing beta cells. An infant may suffer from hyperglycemia or glycosura, along with mild acidosis at birth.
Monogenic diabetes – is cause by genetic mutation. Out of 30,000 individual genes in an average person’s body, over 20 are linked to monogenic diabetes leading to Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young or MODY (HNF1A, GCK genes) or neonatal diabetes (KCNJ11, ABCC8, INS genes).
Diabetes related to cystic fibrosis (CFRD) – is a type of diabetes, which only develops in people diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. Although it is one type of diabetes, the diagnosis and treatment are different from the procedures performed on people with non-CF related diabetes.
Steroid-induced diabetes – develops in people who consume steroid for longer period. People who are at risk of developing the disease and, at the same time consuming high doses of corticosteroids are more likely to develop it.
Latent autoimmune diabetes of adults (LADA) – also known as late-onset autoimmune diabetes of adulthood, is a subtype of Type 1 and 2, occurring slowly in adults especially if they are obese or have a family history.
Diagram shows insulin release from the Pancreas and how this lowers blood sugar levels. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Each diabetes type has its own causes. For the most part, Type 1 Diabetes for instance is mostly hereditary, but requires a trigger such as a viral infection. Based on studies and research, the serotype Coxsackie B4 virus strongly links to the development of Type 1 diabetes because it destroys insulin-producing beta cells.
Type 2 diabetes on the other hand can also be hereditary, but for the most part the major factors are related to an unbalanced lifestyle. Obesity is one of the most common causes of this, along with stagnation, poor diet, stress, and smoking. Excessive consumption of saturated fats, trans-fatty acid, white rice, and sweets can lead to Type 2 diabetes. A lack of exercise and a sedentary job in front of a computer are major contributors to the diagnosis – 7% of diabetes cases is caused by a stagnant lifestyle.
Some other causes include genetic defects, pancreatic defects, endocinophathies (endocrine system defects), viral infections, and certain drugs and medications.
Prediabetes unfortunately does not display symptoms, so it can go undetected unless you ask a doctor for A1C Blood Test. However, there are classic signs and symptoms that can help you determine whether you have Type 2 diabetes such as:
- Polyuria or frequent urination
- Polydypsia or excessive thirst
- Polyphagia or increased hunger
- Blurry vision (leading to blindness in advanced stages)
- Diabetic dermadromes or skin rashes
Emergency cases have drastic symptoms including:
For Type 1 Diabetes:
- Diabetic ketoacidosis or DKA (body produces ketone acid, also occurs rarely in Type 2 diabetes)
- Kussmaul breathing (rapid and deep breathing)
- Abdominal pain
- Altered states of consciousness
For Type 2 Diabetes:
Hyperosmolar nonketotic state happens primarily due to dehydration
Diabetes is one dreaded disease that can decrease a person’s life expectancy by 20 or 30 years, thanks to a wide range of resources and modern technology. We should also be grateful for the ceaseless medical research that continually supports with useful information and treatment options so that there should be less worries regarding life span.
But, people should consider prevention over treatment, by imbibing all the information spread over the Internet and medical journals and by taking advices from doctors and individuals living with the disease.
For those who are diagnosed, or have family or friends with this disease seeking treatment options and methods to alleviate symptoms, please check back for more info as we present to you in detail a range of procedures, medications, and lifestyle change suggestions.