Types Of Diabetes
In medical parlance, this disease is known as “diabetes mellitus” – diabetes from the Greek word for siphon, to illustrate the excessive thirst and urination, which is characteristic of this condition, and mellitus from the Latin word for honey – as urine of a diabetic person contains sugar and is sweet.
Commonly, this disease is called diabetes.
There are many types of diabetes, but the three most common are:
« Type 1 diabetes
« Type 2 diabetes
« Gestational diabetes
1. Type 1 diabetes (also known as insulin dependent diabetes):
This is an autoimmune disease where the body’s own immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. The pancreas then produces little or no insulin. It can appear at any age, although mostly under 30 (very often in childhood or during teens), and is caused by environmental factors such as viruses, diet or people genetically predisposed. This type of diabetes, is also known as juvenile-onset diabetes.
It is not really known what causes type 1 diabetes and it is not caused by eating too much sugar or sweets.
Symptoms of type 1 diabetes usually develop over a short period, although beta cell destruction can begin much earlier. Common symptoms include increased thirst and urination, constant hunger, weight loss, blurred vision, and extreme weakness. If not timely diagnosed and treated with insulin, a person with type 1 diabetes can go into life-threatening diabetic coma, also known as diabetic ketoacidosis.
2. Type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent diabetes):
This is the most common form of diabetes, affecting 85-90% of all diagnosed people. It is also known as late-onset diabetes, and is characterised by insulin resistance and relative insulin deficiency.
Type 2 diabetes is genetic in origin, but other factors such as excess weight, sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure, ethnicity and faulty diet are its major risk factors. Symptoms may not show up for many years, and by the time they crop up, considerable harm may have been done to the body.
In this condition, the pancreas is usually producing enough insulin, but for reasons unknown, the body cannot use the insulin effectively – termed as insulin resistance. As a result, glucose builds up in the blood and the body cannot make proficient use of its main source of energy.
The symptoms of type 2 diabetes develop gradually. Symptoms include weakness, nausea, frequent urination, excess thirst, weight loss, blurred vision, frequent infections, and slow healing of wounds. Some people may show no symptoms.
Type 2 diabetes is a progressive, lifetime condition; and over time, it may be difficult to keep the blood glucose level in the target range. However, good diabetes care and management can prevent or delay the onset of complications.
One can do this by:
« Eating healthy meals and snacks
« Following regular physical activity
« Taking diabetes medications (including insulin), if prescribed.
3. Gestational diabetes:
Gestational diabetes develops only during pregnancy. In most cases, all diabetic symptoms disappear following delivery. Women who have had gestational diabetes have a 20 to 50 % chance of developing type 2 diabetes within 5 to 10 years, especially if they were overweight before the pregnancy.
Gestational diabetes is not caused by a lack of insulin, but by blocking effects of other hormones (estrogen, cortisol, and human placental lactogen) on the insulin that is produced, a condition referred to as insulin resistance. Normally, the pancreas is able to make additional insulin to overcome insulin resistance. However, when the production of insulin is not enough to overcome the effect of the placental hormones, gestational diabetes results.
Carbohydrate intolerance is diagnosed during pregnancy through an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). While the carbohydrate intolerance usually returns to normal level after delivery, the mother has a significant risk of developing permanent diabetes later on; while the baby is more likely to develop obesity and impaired glucose tolerance and/or diabetes later in life.
Risk factors include a family history of diabetes, increasing maternal age, obesity and being a member of a ethnic group with a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The complications of gestational diabetes are usually manageable and preventable. The key to prevention is careful control of blood sugar levels as soon as the diagnosis of gestational diabetes is made.
Other types of diabetes –
4. Diabetes insipidus:
Diabetes insipidus is an uncommon condition, that occurs when the kidneys are unable to conserve water as they perform their function of filtering blood. The anti-diuretic hormone (ADH, also called vasopressin) controls the amount of water conserved. Diseases of the kidney (for example, polycystic kidney disease) and the effects of certain drugs may also cause nephrogenic diabetes insipidus.
The common symptoms are excessive urination and extreme thirst.
5. Syndrome X:
Syndrome X, also known as the “metabolic syndrome” or “Insulin Resistance Syndrome”, is a condition that is linked to an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.
It is characterised by abdominal obesity, elevated levels of triglycerides, low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar levels. Other symptoms include smoking, high fat and calorie diet, pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome.
This is more common in older people than in younger people. In addition, women were more likely to have the syndrome than men.
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