Just the Facts, Please…

Type 1, Type 2 and gestational—these are the three types of diabetes.  Each type is different but all involve the ability of the body to make and/or use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into needed energy.  Diabetes is a serious and potentially deadly disease.

I have Type 1 (Diabetes mellitus type 1, T1DM for short).  My body stopped producing insulin when I was 12.  Back when I was diagnosed it was called “juvenile diabetes.”   This type is usually diagnosed in children and young adults.  While the exact cause is not entirely understood, it is believed that my own immune system attacked my insulin-producing beta cells in my pancreas.  All we know for sure is that my pancreas quit making insulin–permanently.  I am rare…only five percent of all people with diabetes have Type 1.  There is no cure yet, and the only treatment is by injection or by using an insulin pump.

Type 2 (T2DM) is the most common form of the disease.  In T2DM, the body either does not produce enough insulin or doesn’t use the insulin like it should.  It is common for people with this type to be overweight.  Treatment includes exercise and diet. If exercise and diet do not bring blood sugar levels down, then oral medications are used.  Sometimes injections of insulin are required.  Many times individuals have “pre-diabetes” before developing T2DM.  The good news is that people can make changes to their diet and physical activity in order to avoid T2DM.

Gestational diabetes occurs when women who have never had diabetes develop high blood sugars during pregnancy.  It is thought that hormones from the placenta can block the mother’s insulin.  This poses dangers to both mother and baby.  Many of us know that this is one cause of larger babies.

In all three types of diabetes, complications arise when sugar remains in the blood instead of being used.  The complications are endless.  Until there is a cure, one with diabetes needs to find a way to control the disease.

What type of diabetes do you or someone you know have?