Types of Diabetes
The millions of cells in your body require energy in a very basic form called glucose. Glucose is a simple sugar that is formed by breaking down the food you eat. It is introduced into the bloodstream via intestinal absorption after meals.
The hormone insulin, produced by pancreatic beta cells, regulates the amount of glucose in your blood. Normally, your body’s cells are impermeable to glucose. However, in the presence of insulin, specific cell receptors are activated and glucose is allowed to rapidly enter the cell. Once inside muscle and fat cells, glucose can be utilized for energy.
The amount of glucose circulating is tightly regulated by the body (within a range of 3.5-6.5 mmol/l) by releasing insulin. When glucose levels exceed a certain point, the pancreas secretes more insulin into the blood to help move the glucose move out of the blood and into your cells. When blood glucose levels get too low, the body releases glucose from stores kept in the liver and triggers you to eat.
Problems arise when:
- the pancreas does not produce insulin
- the pancreas produces very little insulin
- when the body is unable to utilize the insulin in a normal manner due to “insulin resistance.”
Without the insulin, glucose remains in the blood and reaches levels that are toxic. In addition, because the glucose remains in the blood, key organs are deprived of the necessary fuel to function.
- Type 1 diabetics have a severe deficiency of insulin and comprise approximately 10% of total cases. Type 1 diabetes is typically diagnosed in childhood and is sometimes called juvenile-onset diabetes mellitus. Type 1 diabetes can also occur in older people who, for some reason, lose their pancreatic beta cells. Common causes include alcohol, pathology, surgery, etc. Type 1 diabetics require daily insulin to survive; hence they are sometimes called insulin-dependent diabetics.
- Type 2 diabetics produce insulin but the body is unable to utilize this insulin (insulin resistance). 90% of diabetics have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can be controlled with diet, exercise, weight loss and medications.
- Gestational Diabetes (Pregnancy): Diabetes that develop during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy is referred to as gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes typically goes away after delivery. Women with gestational diabetes are likely to develop it again during subsequent pregnancies. These women are also susceptible to type 2 diabetes later in life. Babies born of diabetic mothers are often larger than normal.