March 9, 2023

Diseases & Conditions


Types of Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes mellitus (or diabetes) is a chronic, lifelong condition that affects your body’s ability to use the energy found in food. There are three major types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes.

Types of Diabetes Mellitus
Types of Diabetes Mellitus

All types of diabetes mellitus have something in common. Normally, your body breaks down the sugars and carbohydrates you eat into a special sugar called glucose. Glucose fuels the cells in your body. But the cells need insulin, a hormone, in your bloodstream in order to take in the glucose and use it for energy. With diabetes mellitus, either your body doesn’t make enough insulin, it can’t use the insulin it does produce, or a combination of both.

What is diabetes mellitus?

Diabetes mellitus (commonly referred to as diabetes) is a disease of the pancreas, an organ behind your stomach that produces the hormone insulin. Insulin helps the body use food for energy. When a person has diabetes, the pancreas either cannot produce enough insulin, uses the insulin incorrectly, or both. Insulin works together with glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream to help it enter the body’s cells to be burned for energy. If the insulin isn’t functioning properly, glucose cannot enter the cells. This causes glucose levels in the blood to rise, creating a condition of high blood sugar or diabetes, and leaving the cells without fuel.

What are the common types of diabetes?

  • Type 1: Type 1 diabetes occurs because the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas (beta cells) are damaged. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas makes little or no insulin, so sugar cannot get into the body’s cells for use as energy. People with type 1 diabetes must use insulin injections to control their blood glucose. Type 1 is the most common form of diabetes in people under age 20-30, but it can occur at any age. Ten percent of people with diabetes are diagnosed with type 1.

  • Type 2: In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas makes insulin, but it either doesn’t produce enough insulin or the insulin does not work properly. Type 2 diabetes may sometimes be controlled with a combination of diet, weight management and exercise. However, treatment also may include oral glucose-lowering medications or insulin injections.

What causes diabetes?

  1. Physical stress (such as surgery or illness)

  2. Use of certain medications, including steroid and blood pressure medications

  3. Injury to pancreas (such as infection, tumor, surgery or accident)

  4. Autoimmune disease

  5. High blood pressure

  6. Abnormal blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels

  7. Age (risk increases with age)

  8. Alcohol (risk increases with years of heavy alcohol use)

  9. Smoking

  10. Pregnancy (see “What is gestational diabetes?” on the last page)

  11. Family history of diabetes or inherited tendency

  12. African-American, Hispanic, Native American or Asian-American race or e thnic background

  13. Being overweight (20 percent or more over your desired body weight)

How is diabetes diagnosed?

The preferred method of diagnosing diabetes is the fasting plasma glucose test (FPG). The FPG measures your blood glucose level after you have fasted (not eaten anything) for 10 to 12 hours. Normal fasting blood glucose is between 70 and 100 mg/dl for people who do not have diabetes. The standard diagnoses of diabetes is made when:

  1. A patient has a fasting blood glucose level of 126 mg/dl or higher on two separate occasions.

  2. A patient has a random blood glucose level of 200 mg/dl or greater and has common symptoms of diabetes, such as:

  3. Increased thirst

  4. Frequent urination

  5. Increased hunger

  6. Fatigue

  7. Blurred vision

  8. Weight loss

Diabetes Mellitus Treatment

Management of type 2 diabetes includes:

  • Healthy eating

  • Regular exercise

  • Possibly, diabetes medication or insulin therapy

  • Blood sugar monitoring

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