Diabetes is a very common disease, with almost 8% of the United States population being affected. It can be a serious condition, especially if not monitored and treated properly. Diabetes is basically a metabolic disorder that affects the way the body utilizes food. When a person has diabetes, the pancreas doesn't produce the right level of insulin, or the body's cells do not respond correctly to the insulin. This causes glucose to build up in the blood, which then passes out of the body through the urine. The end result is high levels of glucose in the blood that the body is not able to utilize. These high blood glucose levels can cause damage to many parts of the body over time. There are three primary types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, and gestational.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is basically an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks the cells within the pancreas that are responsible for producing insulin. The end result is the destruction of these cells, which means the person then produces little or even no insulin. Because of this, the person has to take daily doses of insulin in order to survive. The exact cause of Type 1 diabetes is not known, but it is thought that genetic, environmental and autoimmune factors are involved. Symptoms often appear suddenly, and can include weight loss, persistent hunger and thirst, increased urination, fatigue and blurred vision. If not treated, the condition can be life-threatening.
Type 2 Diabetes
The most common form of diabetes, Type 2 often develops later in life. Causes for Type 2 diabetes include obesity, heredity, and physical inactivity. The majority of people who are afflicted with Type 2 diabetes are overweight, and it is becoming increasingly prevalent not only in adults, but also in teenagers and children. In the case of Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas initially produces adequate amounts of insulin, but the body somehow becomes resistant to it and no longer processes it correctly. Over time, the pancreas will decrease its production of insulin, with an end result similar to that of Type 1 diabetes. Symptoms often develop gradually and can include weight loss, fatigue, increased urination, thirst, and blurred vision. A person with Type 2 diabetes also tends to have frequent infections, with wounds healing slowly. However, some people don't have any symptoms at all, which can make it difficult to diagnose in a timely fashion.
Gestational diabetes is a type that only occurs during pregnancy. It tends to run in families, and occurs more frequently with older mothers. Obesity can also increase a woman's chances of developing gestational diabetes. The problem is usually not serious, although there are instances when the condition can be hazardous to the mother as well as the child she is carrying. With proper monitoring and care during the pregnancy, in most cases the blood glucose level will not cause a problem and will return to normal after the baby is delivered. However, developing gestational diabetes increases a woman's chances that she will develop Type 2 diabetes later in life.