Diabetes Facts and Information

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which the body can not properly use glucose (sugar) for fuel. All the cells of your body — of the heart, muscles, brain, nervous system, liver and other tissues – depend on glucose in order to grow and function. Without insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas, your cells can not take up glucose from the bloodstream. The result is that your cells "starve" despite dangerously high levels of glucose in the blood.

Diabetes Types

The American Diabetes Association recommended changing the names of the two main types of diabetes to eliminate confusion about age of onset and treatment. The types of diabetes include the following:

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own tissues; in this case, the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. Without the insulin key, cells in the body can not take in valuable glucose from the bloodstream. People with Type 1 Diabetes require daily insulin injections in order to live. Type 1 Diabetes can develop at any age although it most commonly manifests in children and young adults.

Prevalence: 5-10% of all cases

Causes: The exact cause of Type 1 Diabetes is unknown. Genes, environment and viruses may contribute to etiology.

Treatment/Management: Diet, exercise, insulin shots or pump, aspirin (sometimes), blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose monitoring.

Formerly Known As: Juvenile-onset diabetes, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM)

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes results when muscle, liver, and fat cells of the body lose sensitivity to insulin – a condition known as insulin resistance. Cells do not take in adequate glucose for energy resulting in cell "starvation." The pancreas responds by secreting more insulin until it can no longer keep up with increased demand and eventually slows or stops secreting insulin altogether. Some people with Type 2 Diabetes rely on insulin injections. People can develop Type 2 Diabetes at any age although it is most common in people over the age of 45 years old.

Prevalence: 90-95% of all cases

Causes: The exact cause of Type 2 Diabetes is unknown. Genes, environment and viruses may contribute to etiology.

Treatment/Management: Diet, exercise, oral medications (sulfonylureas), insulin (sometimes), aspirin (always), blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose monitoring.

Formerly Known As: Adult-onset diabetes, noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM)

Additional Diabetes Conditions

Gestatational Diabetes: This condition occurs during the late stages pregnancy and often abates after delivery. It is caused by pregnancy-related hormones or decreased insulin. Woman who have had gestational diabetes are at increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes later in life.

Pre-Diabetes: Also known as impaired glucose tolerance, pre-diabetes refers to higher than normal blood glucose levels that are lower than diabetes range. People with pre-diabetes can reduce their risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes in the future by losing weight and adopting a regular program of moderate physical activity.