Diabetes actually falls into two distinct types – not including gestational diabetes, which another separate condition – which are in fact two completely different diseases and require completely separate approaches to treatment.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is actually an autoimmune disease. In these patients, their body’s immune system actually attacks the insulin-making cells in the pancreas. Insulin is a hormone that is essential for regulating blood sugar levels. The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown. It is most likely a combination of genetic predisposition and some environment elements that cause those genes to activate.
Type 1 diabetes is most often diagnosed in childhood. Unlike type 2 diabetes, there is no association with increased body weight or a high BMI in developing this disease. There is, however, often an association with higher than normal levels of ketones, byproducts of the body when it breaks down fat for energy. Type 1 diabetes always requires treatment with insulin, either in the form of injections or through an insulin pump. It cannot be controlled without insulin.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is caused by the body losing its ability to properly respond to existing insulin, also known as insulin resistance. In these patients, the body tries to compensate for this resistance by producing additional insulin, but it can’t produce enough to properly monitor and control blood sugar levels. Over time, this places a strain on the insulin producing cells, destroying them and diminishing the actual amount of insulin produced. The cause of type 2 diabetes is multifaceted.
Inherited genes may make a person more susceptible to type 2 diabetes, but lifestyle factors also play a large part. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include a family history of the disease, a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, and obesity. Minority groups including African-Americans, Latin Americans, and some Native American groups are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than Caucasian Americans are.
Type 2 diabetes is most often diagnosed in those over 30 years of age, and it is often associated with being overweight or obese. A high BMI is a strong risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes, as are high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol levels. Type 2 diabetes is most often treated first without medication through diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes. In those instances when insulin is required, changes in lifestyle over time may still allow an individual with type 2 diabetes to eventually stop taking medication.
In some instances, such as when another medical condition is also involved, treating a loved one with diabetes or caring for yourself may require assistance. In these cases, Specialty Care Services is here to help! We offer a wide range of in-home health care and support services. For more information, contact us today. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist you.