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Diabetes: What Is It And Its Types?

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Do you know a friend or relative with diabetes? This disease is currently a serious concern worldwide and is a leading cause of death in most countries. More than 60% of diabetics live in Asia. Keep reading to find out more about what diabetes mellitus is, what causes it, and the differences between the. 

What is diabetes mellitus?

Diabetes is medically known as diabetes mellitus. When you consume carbohydrates and sugar, your body converts them into a sugar known as glucose and transports it through your bloodstream. Your pancreas secretes insulin, a hormone that aids the transport of glucose from your blood into your cells, where it is used for energy. Insulin is used to help your body store and use sugar and fat from the food we eat. 

When you have diabetes and do not receive treatment, your body does not utilise insulin as efficiently as it should. Either the pancreas produces very little or no insulin, or the body does not respond appropriately to insulin. A condition known as high blood sugar occurs when there is an excess of glucose in the blood. This can result in serious or even life-threatening health complications. 

High blood sugar levels harm organs and tissues throughout the body. The higher your blood sugar level is and the longer you have it, the greater your chance of complications. This includes heart disease, heart attacks, stroke, neuropathy, nephropathy, retinopathy, vision loss, hearing loss, foot sores, skin infections, depression, and dementia. 

Diabetes has no known cure. However, with proper therapy and lifestyle adjustments, you can live a long and healthy life.

What are the different types and stages?

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are both chronic diseases. Potentially reversible diabetes disorders include pre-diabetes and gestational diabetes. When your blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be categorised as a diabetic, you have pre-diabetes. Unless adequate actions are taken to prevent progression, it is frequently the forerunner to diabetes. 

Pre-diabetes

Pre-diabetes is defined as having blood sugar levels that are higher than normal. but not high enough for your doctor to diagnose diabetes. It increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart problems. Exercising more and losing weight can lower the risks of further progression into diabetes. 

Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM)

Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system assaults the beta cells found in pancreatic tissue. Because of this, the pancreas produces little to no insulin, a hormone that permits cells to utilise glucose for energy. People with T1DM do not have a functioning pancreas and hence cannot transfer glucose to cells in the body.

This type of diabetes could be caused by your genes or issues with insulin-producing cells in your pancreas. T1DM can also develop when viruses instruct your immune system to attack your pancreas. The majority of persons with T1DM have autoantibodies, which are symptoms of an assault.

Many of the health issues associated with T1DM are caused by damage to eye blood vessels (diabetic retinopathy), nerves (diabetic neuropathy), and kidneys (diabetic nephropathy). 

Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM)

Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) affects approximately 90% of diabetics. In T2DM, insulin resistance occurs as your cells become more resistant and do not respond to insulin. It most commonly occurs in fat, liver, and muscle cells. Your pancreas may not be producing sufficient insulin to overcome this resistance. Because of this, glucose accumulates in the bloodstream instead of moving into cells that need energy. 

Obese people (those who are more than 20% overweight for their height) or people with high blood pressure are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and health complications. Obesity frequently leads to insulin resistance as your pancreas needs to work harder to produce more insulin. However, it is still insufficient in maintaining normal blood sugar levels. T2DM is caused by a mix of genetic and environmental factors and usually runs in families. 

T2DM can occur at any age, but occurs most often in older people. If you have pre-diabetes or gestational diabetes, you are also more likely to develop T2DM. 

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes can develop in women who do not have diabetes before pregnancy. During pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones to keep the pregnancy going. These hormones make your cells more insulin resistant. Your pancreas cannot manufacture enough additional insulin to overcome this resistance. When this occurs, too little glucose enters the cells and too much remains in the blood, resulting in gestational diabetes.

Insulin resistance is common during pregnancy. If this progresses to diabetes, it is referred to as gestational diabetes. Doctors frequently detect it in the middle or late stages of pregnancy. Because a woman’s blood sugars pass through the placenta to the foetus, gestational diabetes must be managed to safeguard the baby’s growth and development. This typically goes away when the baby is born. However, about 50% of women with gestational diabetes go on to develop T2DM. 

Gestational diabetes is more dangerous to the baby than it is to the mother. A baby may gain substantial weight before delivery, have difficulty breathing after birth, or have a higher risk of obesity and diabetes later in life. The mother may require a cesarean surgery due to an unusually large baby. The baby may also suffer heart, kidney, nerve, and eye problems.

T1DM vs T2DM

The primary distinction between these 2 types is that T2DM is not an autoimmune disorder. T2DM can be reversed in many circumstances. It is a long-term condition that impairs the body’s capacity to use glucose. Because T2DM is not an autoimmune disease, it does not develop due to a malfunctioning immune system, as T1DM does.

T2DM is frequently less severe than T1DM. However, it can still create serious health problems, particularly in the tiny blood vessels in your kidneys, nerves, and eyes. Both types of diabetes increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. 

T1DM commonly occurs in childhood or adolescence, while T2DM commonly occurs in people over 40. However, it has become increasingly common in children and teenagers over the last 20 years, due to an increase in the number of young people who are overweight or obese. 

Finding out more

Stay tuned for a deeper look into other topics surrounding diabetes such as diagnosis, risk factors, treatment options, and lifestyle management. 

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