Learn About DiabetesWhat is Diabetes?
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes (DM1) is an autoimmune disease characterized by the destruction of insulin-producing beta cells. That happens by mistake because the organism identifies them as foreign bodies. Its action is an autoimmune response. This type of reaction also occurs in other diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, and thyroid diseases. DM1 appears when the organism stops producing insulin (or only produces a tiny amount of it). When that happens, it is necessary to take insulin to live and stay healthy. People need daily injections of insulin to regulate the sugar metabolism. Without insulin, the glucose cannot reach the cells, which need it to burn it and transform it into energy. With time, the high levels of glucose accumulated in the blood can affect the eyes, kidneys, nerves or the heart.
Most people with DM1 develop large quantities of self-antibodies, which circulate in the bloodstream for some time before the disease is diagnosed. Antibodies are proteins generated in the organism to destroy germs or viruses. Self-antibodies are antibodies with “bad behavior,” that is, they attack the person’s own body tissues. In cases of DM1, self-antibodies can attack the pancreatic cells that produce insulin.
It is unclear why people develop DM1. It is known that in some cases people are born with genes that give them a predisposition for the disease. But other people have the same genes and do not have diabetes. It could be something from the organism itself, or an external cause, such as an emotional loss for instance. Or it could also be some sort of aggression by certain kinds of viruses like coxsackie. Another piece of information is that, in general, it is more frequent in people under 30 years of age, but it is worth mentioning that it could appear at any age.
People with high or badly controlled levels of blood glucose can present:
- Desire to urinate several times
- Frequent hunger
- Constant thirst
- Weight loss
- Mood swings
Type 2 Diabetes
It is known that type 2 diabetes has a greater hereditary factor than type 1 diabetes. In addition, it is largely related to obesity and sedentariness. It is estimated that 60 to 90% of the people with the disease are obese. The incidence is higher after the age of 40. One of its peculiarities is the continuous production of insulin by the pancreas. The problem lies in the muscle and fat cells’ incapability to uptake this insulin. For many different reasons, their cells are not able to metabolize enough glucose from the bloodstream. This is an anomaly called “insulin resistance.” Type 2 diabetes is approximately 8 to 10 times more common than type 1 diabetes and might respond to treatment with a diet and physical exercise. Some other times it may require oral medication, and ultimately, a combination of both with insulin.
- Frequent infections
- Vision changes (blurred vision)
- Wound healing difficulty
- Foot tingling
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