WEDNESDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Before her 12-year-old
daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes a year ago, Michelle
Moriarty knew very little about the blood sugar disease other than
that there was more than one type of diabetes and one kind of
diabetes required shots.
While her daughter was in the hospital recovering from a
life-threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis, Moriarty
was given a crash course in managing type 1 diabetes, the type that
can only be managed with insulin injections. Moriarty now knows
more than she ever wanted to about living with diabetes.
Nov. 14 is World Diabetes Day, sponsored by the International
Diabetes Federation (IDF). The hope is that by raising awareness
and educating people about diabetes, people that have a chance to
prevent type 2 and gestational diabetes (type 1 isn't currently
preventable) will be able to do so.
As many as 366 million people have diabetes worldwide, according
to the IDF. That number is predicted to rise to 552 million by
2030. Most of those people have type 2 diabetes, and many don't
even know they have the disease. In the United States, almost 26
million people have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes
There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2 and
gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy, according to
Dr. Vivian Fonseca, president of medicine and science for the
Type 1:Although the least common type of diabetes, affecting
about 5 percent to 10 percent of those who have diabetes, type 1
patients are often the sickest when they're diagnosed, according to
Dr. Joel Zonszein, director of the clinical diabetes center at
Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. Type 1 is believed to
occur when the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the
insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, destroying them. Insulin
is a hormone that's required to properly process the carbohydrates
-- including sugar -- found in food. People with type 1 diabetes
must replace the lost insulin, either through insulin injections or
by using an insulin pump to deliver insulin under the skin. People
with type 1 disease must also check their blood sugar levels
frequently throughout the day to ensure that they haven't given
themselves too much or too little insulin. There's no known way to
prevent type 1 diabetes, and the cause of this type of diabetes
hasn't been linked to diet.
Moriarty said what she'd really like people to know about her
daughter's diabetes is "that there is no cure. She won't grow out
of it. She might not look sick, but her body is constantly riding a
roller coaster with her blood sugar numbers, and it can make her
feel sick or confused or unable to concentrate or grumpy."
Type 2:Most people are familiar with this type of diabetes.
It used to be called adult-onset, though more and more children are
being diagnosed with type 2 disease, according to the ADA. Type 2
diabetes occurs when the body becomes insulin-resistant. That means
the body doesn't use insulin efficiently, and blood sugar levels
rise. As blood sugar levels rise, the pancreas produces more
insulin to try to compensate. After years of this vicious cycle,
the pancreas eventually becomes too tired to make enough insulin.
Although a sedentary lifestyle and being overweight have been
linked to the development of type 2 diabetes, not everyone who gets
this disease is overweight.
Type 2 diabetes can be managed with lifestyle changes, such as
eating healthy, losing weight and exercising regularly, along with
medications. Sometimes, people with type 2 diabetes also need to
use insulin injections to help manage their diabetes.
Fonseca said that it's likely that there is more than one kind
of type 2 diabetes, but that researchers haven't clearly identified
separate types yet. "Type 2 is a very broad, all-encompassing
term," he said. For example, there's a rare type of diabetes called
maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY), which is quite similar
to type 2, but it doesn't respond well to the standard type 2 drug
treatment, metformin. Instead, MODY responds well to a class of
diabetes medications called sulfonylureas, Fonseca said.
Gestational diabetes:This type of diabetes is like type 2
diabetes, because the body becomes resistant to insulin. It
generally disappears after the birth of the baby, but women who've
had gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing type
2 diabetes later in life, according to the IDF.
There's also another type of diabetes, which is closely linked
to type 1 diabetes, but appears to share features of both type 1
and type 2 diabetes, at least early in the disease. It's called
latent autoimmune diabetes in adults. It's also sometimes called
type 1.5. This type of diabetes tends to start off slowly, like
type 2, but the antibodies associated with type 1 that are
responsible for the destruction of the insulin-producing cells are
present, and eventually, these people must use insulin injections,
like people with type 1 disease, according to the ADA.
Type 2 and gestational diabetes are often diagnosed through a
routine blood test, or through a glucose tolerance test, which
involves drinking a sugary liquid and having your blood tested at
regular intervals over several hours.
"The most common symptom of type 2 is no symptom at all. That's why it's best to check the blood sugar regularly -- [at annual physicals, for example] -- so that people don't live with diabetes for many years," said Zonszein.
Type 1 symptoms generally come on quickly, and make people so
sick, it's difficult to miss.
Symptoms of diabetes may include:
Learn more about the warning signs of diabetes from the
International Diabetes Federation.
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