Monday November 19th 2018

Different Types of Diabetes

Diabetes is an increasingly common illness affecting some 23.6 million children and adults in the United States equating to 7.8% of the population in 2007. But what exactly is Diabetes? Many do not know there are various different types. This includes a pregnancy or gestational onset and a post surgical onset. Diabetes relates to insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas that allows the body to metabolize carbohydrates or sugars. Insulin is also the hormone that makes us feel hungry. Carbohydrates are in just about everything we eat. The more simple the sugar, the faster it is digested as fuel for the body. One problem is if not used as energy, carbohydrates turn to fat.

The most prevalent form of Diabetes is Type 2 comprising some 90-95 percent of those with the affliction. This often strikes those over 35 and is a metabolic disorder in which the body has difficulty using its own insulin. A resistance develops that is furthered as fat cells release fatty acids that worsen this effect. Blood glucose (sugar) levels rise but the insulin stimulates hunger aiding weight gain further perpetuating the resistive cycle. As a subset, Type 2a patients are usually overweight and must use well-managed eating, usually avoiding simple sugars and oral medications for control. Some do come to need insulin injections especially if weight gain continues. Type 2b patients usually are not overweight and control their blood glucose levels by eating properly and frequently. These patients produce adequate insulin but there is a retarded release slowing metabolization.

Type 1 is juvenile onset striking in infancy or in young adulthood. This is considered an autoimmune disease where the body has destroyed its own insulin producing cells that appeared as foreign threats. With no insulin production, it must instead be injected. Properly managed eating is also necessary and includes usually some simple sugars. Some especially those living in underdeveloped countries are increasingly diagnosed with Type 1 as adults. Known as slow onset and Type 1.5 this is usually due to antibodies that slowly attack the insulin producing cells. These patients usually are not overweight, do not immediately require insulin and have little or no resistance to it.

The issue in either case is high blood glucose levels damage the walls of blood vessels, nerve endings and cause the eyes, heart and kidneys to take on water and swell. This swelling combined with vascular damage can lead to debilitating outcomes like kidney failure, glaucoma, heart attack and stroke. This is why normalizing blood glucose levels is so important.

There are many misreported aspects of Diabetes. No you don’t catch it from others or get it from eating too many sweets. Yes Type 2s may lose enough weight to make their insulin work better but this does not work for Type 1 patients. High blood sugar is more of a longer term threat unless it is extremely high. Low blood sugar something Type 1s often experience is quite dangerous as it can render unconsciousness. For most Type 2s it is stress and body weight combined with genetic background that are primary factors in causation. For many Type 1’s a viral infection combined with some genetic traits is the culprit.

Regardless of type it is imperative any diabetic patient manage their blood glucose as best as possible. Healthy eating, exercise and positive mental attitude are all important. The same applies to prevention for some especially those with a family history. Further research will likely unlock other causes and hopefully lead to viable cures in the future. Until then, check your sugar.

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