There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 Diabetes (juvenile diabetes) which occurs due to a person’s inability to produce insulin and Type 2 Diabetes (adult onset diabetes) which is caused by insulin resistance. The third type of diabetes is gestational diabetes, which will usually resolve on its own after pregnancy, but which increases risk of developing type 2 diabetes later.
Both types of diabetes are characterized by high blood sugar and have similar symptoms such as the urge to urinate more frequently, increased thirst and hunger; however, their mechanism is different. Type 1 diabetes is not a preventive form of the disease and occurs due to the body’s inability to produce enough insulin.
This diabetes type can develop in people who are otherwise healthy. However, if it is left untreated, it can cause cardiovascular disease, diabetic neuropathy, and eye damage and even death.
Type 2 diabetes which is far more common than the first kind, on the other hand is thought to be a lifestyle disease which occurs because of the body becoming resistant to insulin. Both types of diabetes, if left untreated, can gradually result in some very serious complications.
These could include heart disease, nerve damage, kidney damage, damage to the eyes and even blindness, foot damage that could eventually require amputation, skin and mouth infections, osteoporosis, hearing problems and even degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Management of type 1 diabetes
Insulin replacement therapy, controlling diet and monitoring of blood sugar levels are the main aims of managing this type of diabetes. The treatment focuses on keeping blood sugar in the normal range of 80–140 mg/dl. Insulin is either injected or is administered via an insulin pump. The insulin therapy is used in conjunction with glucose monitoring and diet control (counting carbs).
In more extreme cases of these types of diabetes, pancreas transplantation or islets cell transplantation could be considered. However these treatments can be dangerous because of the immunosuppressant therapy that is required to accompany the transplant (so that the body’s immune system doesn’t treat the transplant as a foreign body and doesn’t reject it).
Managing type 2 diabetes
This type of diabetes is thought to be a lifestyle disease and as such preventable or at least possible to delay. These types of diabetes can be prevented by taking regular exercise and having a healthy diet and keeping weight within a healthy range.
Medications such as metformin or acarbose could help delay onset of the disease among those who have impaired glucose tolerance; however research has shown that lifestyle interventions could be more effective than medications.
The key management strategies for managing type 2 diabetes are related to lifestyle alterations. A low glycemic index diet, paired with a good exercise regimen, which also brings about weight loss among overweight people is the best management strategy.
Medications such as metformin (an oral anti diabetic drug that works by suppressing glucose production by the liver) are most commonly used for managing diabetes. Other medications may also be used for these types of diabetes, and in cases insulin may also be required.