Diabetes is a disease and word frequently discussed in the United States as obesity rates continue to climb. It’s become a staple topic in television programs like “The Biggest Loser” where many of the contestants are afflicted with the disease. We talk about it so much, that maybe it’s a good idea to go back to the basics every now and then. Take a look at the short outline below to refresh your memory on the different types of diabetes. Is Type 1 or Type 2 most prevalent in the U.S.?
What Are The Types of Diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), or simply, diabetes, is a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body’s ability to produce and/or use insulin, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
There are basically three kinds of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational Diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes (formerly called juvenile diabetes) is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. If you have type 1 diabetes, your body does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. It’s important to know that only 5 percent of people with diabetes have this form of the disease. With the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, even young children with type 1 diabetes can learn to manage their condition and live long, healthy, happy lives.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, according to the ADA. Millions of Americans have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes — and many others don’t even know they have it. Some groups of people are also at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes than others, such as African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, as well as older people.
If you have type 2 diabetes, it means that either your body does not produce enough insulin, or your body’s cells ignore the insulin. Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use glucose for energy. According to the ADA, when you eat food, the body breaks down the sugars and starches into glucose, which is the basic fuel for the cells in the body. Insulin takes the sugar from the blood into the cells. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it can lead to diabetes complications.
Many women develop gestational diabetes during their pregnancy—typically around the 24th week, according to the ADA. A diagnosis of gestational diabetes doesn’t mean that the pregnant woman had diabetes before she conceived, or that she will have diabetes after giving birth. It’s important to listen to your doctor’s guidance regarding blood glucose (blood sugar) levels if you are planning your pregnancy, so you and your baby can both stay healthy.
No matter what the type, diabetes is a serious disease that requires regular monitoring from your primary care physician. If you have diabetes or have additional questions, be sure to speak with your doctor to learn more.