Diabetes is a lifelong disease that occurs when the pancreas produces little to no insulin, or when the body builds insulin resistance. Over 18 million people in the United States alone suffer from this disease, with almost one third not even aware that they have it. Currently, there is no cure for diabetes - however, those who are diagnosed with the disease are able to manage it with proper treatment.
There are three main types of diabetes. In this article, we shed light on the differences between the three and the unique needs and characteristics of each type.
Type 1 Diabetes
In people with type 1 diabetes, the damaged pancreas no longer produces insulin. This type of diabetes often begins in childhood, and may be caused by a genetic predisposition. It is an autoimmune condition, which means that it’s caused by the body attacking its own pancreas with antibodies.
Risks include increased risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as damage to the eyes, nerves and kidneys. Type 1 diabetes is treated by taking insulin, which needs to be injected through the skin.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes accounts for approximately 85% of diabetic cases in adults. It is often considered a milder form of diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, the pancreas produces an insufficient amount of insulin, or is affected by insulin resistance. People who are obese are at particularly high risk for type 2 diabetes.
This type of diabetes can be controlled with weight management, diet and exercise. As the disease progresses, medications are prescribed to keep it under control.
This type of diabetes is triggered by pregnancy. This is due to insulin resistance that, to some degree, is naturally caused by pregnancy. Gestational diabetes is often diagnosed during the latter part of a woman’s pregnancy, and occurs between 2-10% of all pregnancies.
It is important to diagnose gestational diabetes immediately to protect the unborn baby. Treatment includes controlling pregnancy weight gain, daily exercise, careful meal planning and taking insulin as needed.