Diabetes is a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body’s ability to produce and/or use insulin.
With diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. Some people may refer to this type as insulin-dependent diabetes, juvenile diabetes, or early-onset diabetes. People usually develop type 1 diabetes before age 40, often in early adulthood or teenage years.
However, type 1 diabetes is nowhere near as common as type 2 diabetes. Approximately 10% of all diabetes cases are type 1.
Patients with type 1 diabetes will need to take insulin injections for the rest of their life. They must also ensure proper blood-glucose levels by carrying out regular blood tests and following a special diet.
In the case of type 2 diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin for proper function, or the cells in the body do not react to insulin (insulin resistance). Approximately 90% of all cases of diabetes worldwide are of this type.
Type 2 diabetes presents different challenges. Some people may be able to control their type 2 diabetes symptoms by losing weight, following a healthy diet, doing plenty of exercise, and monitoring their blood glucose levels. However, type 2 diabetes is typically a progressive disease – it gradually gets worse – and the patient will probably end up have to take insulin, usually in tablet form.
There is also a “warning stage” of type 2 diabetes. The vast majority of patients with type 2 diabetes initially had prediabetes. Their blood glucose levels where higher than normal, but not high enough to merit a diabetes diagnosis. The cells in the body are becoming resistant to insulin.
Studies have indicated that even at the prediabetes stage, some damage to the circulatory system and the heart may already have occurred.
Yet another type is gestational diabetes, which affects females during pregnancy. Some women have very high levels of glucose in their blood, and their bodies are unable to produce enough insulin to transport all of the glucose into their cells, resulting in progressively rising levels of glucose.