Diabetes can be a bit confusing when you first begin looking into it, because diabetes isn’t just one blanket term that can apply to all cases. Not only does diabetes differ greatly in severity, but there are also multiple types of diabetes that you may be diagnosed with, each having their own causes and solutions. All types are complex and serious.
Diabetes is a serious life-long health condition that happens when the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high because the body can’t use it as it should. If left untreated, high blood glucose levels can cause severe health complications and need to be treated and managed properly.
The three main types of diabetes are type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. Both main types of diabetes have a few things in common. All types will experience a deficiency of insulin, an important hormone in your body which breaks down sugars in your blood stream. Insulin serves as a “key” to open your cells, to allow the glucose to enter -- and allow you to use the glucose for energy.
The lack of insulin, or in some cases, the lack of functioning insulin, leads to high blood sugar levels. Type 1 diabetes is a condition in which your body’s immune system turns on the parts of your pancreas that produce insulin and attack them, while type 2 is a condition in which your body simply cannot use the insulin efficiently.
By far the most common type of diabetes that people get is type 2 diabetes. This is often considered to be the less dangerous of the two main types. Type 2 diabetes typically occurs later in your life, around your 40s and on.
The upside to type 2 diabetes is that even if you have it, you can mitigate its effects by exercising regularly and eating right. The causes of type 2 diabetes aren’t entirely clear yet, but there are a few factors that seem to play a significant role.
Family history is a major factor for type 2, so if either of your parents had type 2 diabetes, you’re automatically predisposed to it. Additionally, studies have shown that being overweight and inactive can also lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
The less common, yet more severe type of diabetes is type 1 diabetes. The causes of type 1 diabetes are even less clear, though it’s believed to be somewhat genetic and science tells us it’s got nothing to do with diet or lifestyle.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the body attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells, meaning no insulin is produced. This causes glucose to quickly rise in the blood.
Type 1 diabetes is worse than type 2 because there’s no real way to curb the effects of it very easily.
It also appears much earlier in life, usually at a young age or around adolescence, which can be particularly dangerous. Type 1 diabetics will have to continue administering insulin to themselves and keeping track of their blood sugar levels.
A third form of diabetes also exists, known as gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes occurs in pregnant women, and is only a temporary condition. However, it’s not to be taken too lightly, as it does increase the risk of developing diabetes in both the mother and the child.
If your doctor has diagnosed you with prediabetes, it simply means your blood sugar levels aren’t yet formally as high as a diabetic, but they’re heading that way and there’s still time for you to turn things around.
Diabetes: the basics. [Available online] https://www.diabetes.org.uk/diabetes-the-basics
What is Diabetes? [Available online] https://www.diabetesresearch.org/what-is-diabetes
What is diabetes? [Available online] https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/what-is-diabetes
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