Diabetes is a disease that affects the body’s ability to break down glucose, or sugar, to use for energy. In healthy patients, digestion releases sugars into the blood. In response, the pancreas releases insulin, which triggers the metabolism of the blood sugar, converting it into usable energy. In patients with diabetes, the pancreas either does not produce insulin (type 1 diabetes) or the body does not respond adequately to the insulin produced (type 2 diabetes).
The primary difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes is insulin production. In type 1 diabetes, which is also called insulin-dependent diabetes, the cells that produce insulin are attacked by the immune system and destroyed. As a result, no insulin is produced at all. In type 2 diabetes, which is often called adult-onset diabetes, the body becomes resistant to insulin and fails to use it appropriately, which can eventually lead to decreased insulin production. Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented while type 2 diabetes can be prevented with simple lifestyle changes.
The symptoms of diabetes include:
Patients with type 2 diabetes may not experience any symptoms. Type 2 diabetes is often detected during a routine physical.
The causes of type 1 diabetes are unknown, but genetic disposition may play a role. On the contrary, the causes of type 2 diabetes are known and include family history, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, age, and poor diet.
The longer a patient has diabetes and the less they are able to control their blood sugars, the higher their risk of complications grows. Potential complications include:
Regular medical care is critical in prevention and early detection of diabetes-related complications.