Are there different types of diabetes?
Yes, there are! There are four forms of diabetes.
In this article, I will address the two main forms of it: type-1 diabetes and type-2 diabetes. Let me remind you that I am not a doctor. I am just sharing my experience as a type-1 diabetic person diagnosed in June, 2006.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is sugar assimilation, use and storage disorder. This leads to high levels of blood glucose also known as glycaemia: it is called hyperglycaemia.
The blood sugar level increase while you eat. Carbohydrates are thus transforming mainly into glucose. The increase of blood sugar is then detected by the pancreas. The beta cells of the pancreas that are gathered in clusters, named islets of Langerhans, make insulin. Insulin allows glucose to enter into the cells of the body such as muscles, adipose tissues or liver. The latter is responsible for the transformation and storage blood glucose. It thus decreases. Your liver releases blood glucose between meals thanks to another hormone called glucagon.
To remain a stable blood sugar in one’s body, all these hormones must work together in a perfect balance. For diabetes, this control system is going wrong.
How do you know if you have diabetes?
Some indicators that can warn you:
- Thirsty night and day, dried throat, dehydrated feelings (need to dring very much)
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Headaches, blurred vision
- Important weight loss (I lost 12kg within a month since I was diagnosed).
If you have these symptoms, you should visit your doctor who can give you a blood test in a lab to measure your HbA1C.
Diabetes is diagnosed when your fasting glucose level is equal or greater than 1.26 g/l twice, or equal or greater than 2 g/l at any time of the day.
Type-1 and type-2 diabetes
There are two main types of diabetes. Type-1 diabetes affects about 6% of diabetic persons whereas for type-2 diabetes, it is 92%. The remaining 2% are other forms of diabetes (MODY, LADA or illness or medication-driven diabetes).
Type-1 diabetes, insulin-dependent diabetes or IDD
Type-1 diabetes affects mainly young people: children, teenagers or young adults. The pancreas stopped producing insulin and we actually do not know why. Without pancreas we will not live longer. Before first insulin injections in 1922, people used to die of diabetes.
If you want more information the discovery of insulin, read Frederick Grant Banting’s article.
It is vital for us to have insulin continuously. Nowadays, there are many different treatments such as manual insulin injections or insulin pump. However, a regular blood glucose control. It is advised to meet your diabetologist and check your HbA1C every three months.
A normal way of life, but with injections! A type-1 diabetic can eat whatever he wants at a reasonable level. Insulin must be measured according to what it is eaten. Practicing a regular physical activity is also advised, even for non-diabetic!
Type-2 diabetes, non-insulin dependent diabetes or NIDD
Type-2 diabetes affects mainly people over 40 years old. However, first cases of type-2 diabetes affecting a younger population were reported.
This type of diabetes is widely due to an overweight, obesity or a lack of physical activity. Sneaky and painless, type-2 diabetes can go undetected for a while. It is assumed that 5 to 10 years on average are needed to diagnose it from the first hyperglycaemia.
Type-2 diabetes process differs from type-1. It may result from two types of dysfunctions:
- The liver still make insulin but it is not enough compared to blood glucose: it is called insulinopenia.
- The insulin made is not acting properly, it is insulinorésistance.
Insulin cannot regulate blood glucose and it gradually affects the liver. It no longer produces insulin in sufficient quantities. Both mechanisms create barriers to the entrance of glucose in body cells that stay blood flow.
Hygiene and dietary rules can be exploited as a first treatment. But then, diabetes therapy administered orally or by injections are used. However, they deliver optimum results only if they are coupled with balanced diets and a regular physical activity.
Type-2 diabetes is a progressive disease. After an increase of diabetes therapy (therapeutic climb), insulin injections will be proposed. This will respond to a too important gap.
The treatment helps in regulating blood glucose. Repeat and extended hyperglycaemia are dangerous. To know more about it, read this article.
What you should keep in mind
Both types of diabetes are different. However, they are characterized by a high blood glucose level and should thus be taken seriously. They are no “small diabetes” or “serious diabetes”, it does not exist.
Health research progresses every single day. You can live with diabetes but it cannot be reversed. Monitoring yourself, keeping healthy eating habits, practising a regular physical activity, having an adequate treatment, … you will do that your whole life, but life worth living!
You non-diabetic persons, I hope this article helped you to better understand diabetes. And I would no longer head “You are diabetic because you have been eating too many sweets!”.
You diabetics, take care of yourself. Everything is possible, even with diabetes! 😉
– Mathilde –