Archive for November, 2015
This month (November) is Diabetes Awareness Month, a time set aside to education and inspire those living with a form of diabetes and those who can take steps to reduce their risk of the preventable conditions associated with diabetes.
Diabetes is not a single disease. It is group of similar conditions that fall into the same category because the symptoms and effects on the body may be similar. The most common types of diabetes in our presence society are Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes and Gestational Diabetes. Understanding what they have in common, how they differ and the associated risk factors is crucial to raising awareness and encouraging prevention, when possible.
Type 1 Diabetes accounts for only 5 – 10 percent of all cases, and used to be called juvenile diabetes. Three-quarters of people who develop type 1 are under the age of 18, and most others are under 40 years old, but older adults develop it as well.
The cause of Type 1 Diabetes is unknown. Most experts believe it is an autoimmune disorder, which is a condition that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue. With Type 1 Diabetes, an infection or some other trigger causes the body to destroy the cells in the pancreas that make insulin.
This condition can be passed down through families. In fact, in most cases of Type 1 Diabetes, people inherit risk factors from both parents. Such factors appear to be more common in whites, who have the highest rate of type 1 diabetes.
The pathway to developing Type 1 Diabetes can take years. In studies that followed relatives of people with Type 1 Diabetes, researchers found that relatives who later developed diabetes had certain auto-antibodies in their blood for years.
Type 2 Diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, accounting for 90 – 95 percent of all cases. It used to be called adult-onset diabetes, but, unfortunately, both children and adults develop this kind of diabetes. Many people think of it as the kind of diabetes that does not require insulin. However, about half of people with type 2 diabetes will eventually need insulin. This is because the pancreas produces less and less insulin over time, so it must be injected to meet the body’s needs.
The causes of Type 2 Diabetes are not completely understood, but it almost always starts with insulin resistance. So what contributes to this insulin resistance? Here are some of the most common risk factors:
- Family history of diabetes
- Growing older – your risk increases as you age
- History of gestational diabetes
- Lack of exercise
- Member of a high-risk ethnic group, such as:
- African American
- Asian American or Pacific Islander
- Hispanic American
- Native American
- Overweight or obese
Gestational Diabetes is diabetes that develops while you are pregnant. Gestational diabetes is still diabetes, which means your blood sugar levels are abnormally high. That excess sugar crosses the placenta and can make your baby grow too large and lead to problems with your pregnancy and delivery.
The causes of Gestational Diabetes have not been determined, but the many hormonal changes during pregnancy contribute to what is called insulin resistance – which is your body not using the insulin that your pancreas produces.
For more on these forms of diabetes, visit the Diabetes Management & Supplies Learning Center.