Information about Diabetes

  • Diabetes is a term used to describe a group of metabolic disorders in which the body is unable to use and store glucose.  The result is an elevation in the amount of glucose in the blood, commonly known as high blood sugar.  Type 1 and Type 2 are the most common forms of this disease. 

    Type 1 diabetes (diabetes mellitus or insulin-dependent diabetes)

    Type 1 diabetes is a chronic autoimmune disease that is typically diagnosed in children, teens and young adults, but it can develop at any age.  It is a condition which occurs when proteins in the blood target and destroy the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas.  The result is the pancreas stops producing insulin.  The exact cause of Type 1 diabetes is unknown, but it is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental influences.

    Insulin, a hormone, allows glucose to enter the cells of the body where it is metabolized into energy. Without insulin, the body is unable to change glucose (from the foods we eat) into the necessary energy that allows us to function properly.  Also, without insulin, fat and glucose levels become elevated in the blood and, if left untreated, eventually damage vital organs and blood vessels. 

    Signs and symptoms of diabetes:

    • Being thirsty
    • Frequent urination
    • Eating more than usual
    • Unexplained weight loss

    Symptoms can come on rapidly, sometimes in a matter of days. 

    Other symptoms may include:

    • Poor attention
    • Sleepiness
    • Headache
    • Fluctuations in mood, irritability
    • Tingling or numbness in the hand or feet
    • Frequent skin, gum or bladder infections
    • Wounds that don’t heal
    • Extreme fatigue

     Currently, diabetes cannot be cured, but it can be managed through daily insulin injections, diet and exercise. 

    Type 2 Diabetes

    Type 2 diabetes is a condition which occurs when the body either does not produce enough insulin or the cells of the body are unable to use insulin properly.  It is typically seen in people who are overweight, over 40 years old, and in families with a history of the disease. Recently, however, Type 2 diabetes has been seen more frequently in teens.  

    The symptoms of Type 2 diabetes are the same as Type 1, but the onset of the disease is gradual and may not be recognized for years.  The risk of developing Type 2 diabetes increases if one is overweight, physically inactive, and is unable to metabolize glucose correctly.

    Type 2 diabetes is often treated with diet and exercise and these regimens may be enough to control glucose levels.  However, when diet and exercise are not enough, medications (oral medications or insulin injections) are used to keep glucose levels in the normal range.  The goal of treatment is to keep glucose levels as close to normal as possible so the complications seen in people with diabetes can be minimized.