Millions of people around the world have diabetes but this disease may not be well-understood. The basic characteristic of diabetes manifest in problems with the hormone insulin. In a normal state, an organ in the body known as the pancreas produces and releases insulin to assist the body store and use sugar from the food we eat.
Types of diabetes
A person who has diabetes will have one of the three types: Type one, Type two, or gestational. All of these types have something in common. After eating a meal, the body breaks carbohydrates down into sugar and then releases that sugar into the bloodstream. In order for the sugar to leave the bloodstream and enter the cells of the body to be used for energy, insulin has to be present. With diabetes, the body does not make insulin or the cells cannot use the insulin that it produces.
With type one diabetes, the cells which produce insulin are destroyed. While this condition can happen throughout a person’s life, it’s most common for this do occur in the early years of life which is why type one diabetes may also be called juvenile diabetes. With this type of diabetes, the cells of the body can use insulin correctly but, as the body does not produce insulin, individuals with this disease will have to inject insulin to maintain normal blood glucose levels.
With type two diabetes, the cells of the body produce insulin but the cells of the body become resistant to insulin. Over time, the pancreas has to produce even greater levels of insulin and will eventually stop producing insulin. This lack of production over time may cause a person to have type two diabetes and then develop type one diabetes as well. With type two diabetes, weight loss and exercise are important lifestyle modifications and may help to manage this condition.
Gestational diabetes is triggered during a person’s pregnancy. It is similar to type two diabetes as pregnancy can cause some insulin resistance. In most cases, gestational diabetes will resolve after the mom delivers. With gestational diabetes, controlling their blood glucose through diet, exercise, and medications is important for a healthy pregnancy and delivery.
When diagnosed with any of these conditions, it’s important to have a management plan in place. Initially, a person will usually meet with a dietitian and diabetes educator to explain the diet and lifestyle factors involved. In some cases, individuals may also see a specialized doctor known as an endocrinologist or a case manager. Over time, most people are able to understanding how to manage their condition. Since diabetes can change throughout a person’s life though, it’s important for them to see their doctor on a regular basis and adjust treatment plans as needed.
Although diabetes is a common condition, this condition is actually three separate diagnoses. In many cases, diabetes may be managed through a combination of medication and lifestyle factors. Understanding this disease is essential to management as it can be dangerous if left untreated over time.
*The author of this blog is not a medical professional and this article does not contain professional medical advice. This blog is not intended to substitute for medical advice, treatment, or diagnosis. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of the contents of this article. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.